Second test with autonomous passenger train in Groningen

In the coming period, there will be a second test with Automatic Train Operation (ATO) in the province of Groningen in the Netherlands. This time the passenger train of Arriva will run between the Groningen and Buitenpost stations. In March of this year, there was a test drive between Groningen and Zuidhorn.

The parties that working together in these trails in Groningen are Arriva, the province of Groningen, ProRail and Stadler. The passenger train runs under Grade of Automation level 2 (GoA 2), where the driver supervises, intervenes in the event of a calamity and the doors of the train open and close.


The test between Groningen and Buitenpost measures the effect of driving under ATO on arrival times, the accuracy of stopping at the platforms of the train stations and the energy consumption. According to ProRail, the tests are “a prelude to the first test with people”, which looks at how “travelers experience driving under ATO”.

Automatic driving on the track with ATO ensures that trains run closer after eachother in a safe way. As a result, more trains can run on the track at the same time without additional infrastructure being built. The expectation is that this will bring many benefits on the busy Dutch rail network.

Another advantage is that trains run more smoothly under ATO, which saves energy. Because the system calculates the speed required for accurate arrival at the next station, the trains also run more punctually.

Also read:

During the Intelligent Rail Summit 2019 on 19, 20 and 21 November in Paris, all the different applications of automatic driving on the track will be discussed in more detail. Various rail experts talk about the experiences they have already had with this technology and provide a glimpse into future applications. View the programme here:

Banner Intelligent Rail Summit 2019

Author: Marieke van Gompel

Marieke van Gompel is editor-in-chief of, and, online magazines for railway professionals.

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