Sprinter New Generation train of Nederlandse Spoorwegen, source: Wikimedia Commons

Third railway operator will test ATO in Netherlands

Sprinter New Generation train of Nederlandse Spoorwegen, source: Wikimedia Commons

Dutch national railway operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) intends to test Automatic Train Operation (ATO) by the year’s end. It will become the third company to perform the ATO trials in the Netherlands. Two other operators, Rotterdam Rail Feeding and Arriva, have already done it earlier.

NS will examine the second grade of the ATO technology, also known as GoA2. It requires the presence of a train driver in a cabin and his intervention in case of disruption. At the same time, the train departure, stopping and journey will be carried out automatically. To this end, the railway company will use its electric train of the Sprinter New Generation (SNG) type. The latter will run on the line between Lelystad and Zwolle without passengers. NS will test the ATO technology in a partnership with the rail infrastructure manager ProRail and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands.

Dutch experiments

It was December 2018 when the first ATO tests were performed in the Netherlands. They were carried out on the Betuweroute, the freight dedicated line that runs from the border with Germany to port of Rotterdam. To examine the technology, the locomotive of the Dutch rail freight operator Rotterdam Rail Feeding was used. The Betuweroute tests were also dedicated to GoA2 and were carried together with ProRail and Alstom.

This year the ATO experiments in the Netherlands were extended to the passenger segment. In March the pilot journey of the Arriva’s Flirt train equipped with GoA2 was performed on the Groningen – Zuidhorn line in the province of Groningen. The project was carried out by Arriva together with ProRail, Stadler Rail (manufacturer of the examined train) and the local authorities. It was the first phase of the trials. All the participant intend to test ATO  once more in the coming period on the line between Groningen and Buitenpost, also in the province of Groningen.

Are you interested in the Automatic Train Operation? It will be one of the key themes to discuss at the Intelligent Rail Summit 2019 that will take place on 19-21 November in Paris, France. To know more about the event, follow the link.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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