The train full of people made it from Groningen to Zuidhorn on Wednesday
Translated by Thomas Ansell
The first trial of a driverless train went off successfully yesterday morning, travelling between Groningen and Zuidhorn and back. Between this morning and Monday, there will be more test-journeys on the track between Groningen and Buitenpost, as reported by the Omrop Fryslân.
Regional Director for Arriva Nederland, Milfred Hart, said that the test was very successful: “everything went really very well this morning. It was, naturally very exciting!” The test yesterday was the first time that a driverless train with passengers had travelled on the European mainland. “We did a small portion of the trip with Automatic Train Operation (ATO), and a small amount without it. No one could really tell the difference, and that is probably good news for us to proceed with.”
The automatic train is a possible solution for the issue of growing passenger numbers. “It is busy on the rails, and capacity is naturally limited. You can’t just expand infrastructure, and this is one way that we can increase capacity, and therefore transport more passengers when numbers rise in the future. This could also go a little way to reduce our energy usage,” said Hart.
In the train on Wednesday morning there were prominent people from both Arriva and ProRail, and though five test-passengers were invited to the trial, only one turned up: Henk Puts from Groningen. Asked about his experience of the test he said: “Not especially exciting, but still excellent. I was very interested in how the train would proceed, and I expect that it will become quite common, but there were some very excited people on the train. The technical experts found it very exciting, more so than me”, said Puts.
It looks likely that in the future more and more people will ride on driverless trains, says Hart. “That is the real future, but it is quite a lot further away than what we have been doing at the moment. In this new first phase, a driver is still responsible for what happens with the train. I think that having a driver present will continue for a while, and certainly whilst we are improving the rail infrastructure in the Netherlands.”
Image via Arriva