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Railway lines are getting busier and busier. This means more trains will be using the existing railway network over the coming years. Automatically operated trains could be a smart as well as innovative solution to this challenge. Railway lines are in fact ideally suited for autonomous transportation, due to the fact that trains already use prefixed tracks. Autonomous transportation contributes to more efficient use of railway lines, more sustainable transportation due to energy saving as well as a higher level of punctuality as train rides become more predictable and reliant.

The automated driving of trains is also called ‘Automatic Train Operation’ (ATO). ATO is classified in different automotion levels, called ‘Grades of Automation (GoA). The higher the grade, the higher the level of automation. There are four ATO grades:

  • GoA 1: The train driver drives the train and is merely assisted by safety and support systems.
  • GoA 2: Automated driving, yet the train driver remains responsible.
  • GoA 3: The train driver can leave the driving seat and perform others tasks.
  • GoA 4: Fully automated driving without on-train staff. In case of emergency, the train is remotely controlled.

The level of automation during ProRail testing is GoA 2. The train driver thus always remains fully responsible, as is currently the case.

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