The province of Groningen will become a testing site for the development of a fully automated, self-driving train, the Groninger Internet Courant reports. The tests are planned for the summer with the automatic shunting of trains between the De Vork depot and the shunting area at Onnen.
This automated railway service is a part of the 2.5 million euro experiment by Dutch rail operators NS, Arriva and ProRail, in conjunction with the province, to control and operate trains remotely. The province’s contribution of 275,000 euros comes from the Groningen National Program for the development of sustainable and intelligent self-managing transport systems.
The first test drive, in 2019, between the stations Groningen and Buitenpost was a success with no delays. There were no passengers on board and a driver was on hand in case of mishaps.
According to the provincial authorities, the 2019 trial showed that self-driving trains are safe and can yield significant long-term gains as lower labor costs and the energy efficiency of the trains outweigh the start-up costs.
The experiment in Groningen will be conducted within the framework of the European Shift2Rail initiative that seeks to integrate new and advanced technologies into innovative rail product solutions. The railway operators involved in the project hope to roll out the automated train operation service in Groningen and Friesland by 2026.