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Old March 1st, 2012, 12:40 AM   #1
Suburbanist
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MISC | Driverless/UTO intercity rail systems

Driverless and UTO - Unmanned Train Operation are slowly becoming more common within urban networks, particularly around new lines.

However, to the extent of my knowledge, there isn't a single long-distance rail line that operate without driver and, more crucially, totally unattended.

For those who are not familiar with the concepts, taking the driver out of the cabin, as with today's state of the art signaling, is an easier proposition than taking away a central control that is manned, e.g., leaving all but master coordination of operations to computerized systems.

Hence, the question: when will we see at least one intercity line (say, 200km long or more) that is totally free of humans operating their trains and signaling?

With segregated high-speed lines, that should be relatively easy, provided exclusive platforms were set for the trains to stop at stations that are beginning and end of each unmanned sector. HSR already requires most of the communications, safety and operational features that can make a driverless train feasible.

It would be übercool to see German ICEs or French TGVs running up and down without a train driver. But the question remains: when will we see a major line converted to unmanned operation only?
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Old March 1st, 2012, 01:32 AM   #2
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I think this will be very hard to see. On normal operations it's true that a high-speed segregated railway line could run without driver. But many TGV's and ICE's still run over non-segregated lines, so drivers would still be needed for them, and furthermore there are situations with disruptions and incidents that require special operations and then either you have a driver, or you have someone controlling the train from a central post, but then you'd be paying somebody in any case so all together means the savings aren't that important to justify a potential decrease in safety.
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Old March 1st, 2012, 01:58 AM   #3
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I think more important is automated cargo rail like EurAsia corridor through Russia. Imagine automated trains with 100 containers one by one.

We will see more automated intercity trains when one day we will start to built more maglev lines. I hope that new Japanese Osaka - Tokio line will be automated.
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 08:41 PM   #4
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What's beneficial about your hope, wish?
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Old January 31st, 2013, 06:39 PM   #5
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What about Rio Tinto's driverless freight train in Australia? (See link below - oh, and they're also gonna have driverless trucks! TRUCKS!!)

Could a railway be run without a driver?
Realistically speaking how far are we from this? And bear in mind I'm not talking about city metro/subway systems, I mean actual long distance railway trains.

What would this mean for the drivers: just be left without a job? Would they still be needed inside the trains? And how big an investment would this mean for existing railway companies? Does anyone think this is viable? And is it inevitable?

(http://minecrafthostbox.com/index.ph...erless-trains/)


ps- sorry for the long comment. I actually registered here just so I could get some answers on this matter...
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Old February 1st, 2013, 05:23 AM   #6
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It's hard to think of any major accidents involving driverless trains, except maybe the DC metro disaster.

I think most maglev technology is driverless by default because the tracks themselves are what propels the train.

Anyways, it's obvious that driverless makes most sense with purpose built lines and modern train loading facilities. Given that heavy bulk and efficiency are rail's competitive niche, it's natural that in the future all new or modernized heavy freight lines will be automated.

But even in the future there might be drivers on certain lines with special needs. The US has lots of old branch lines where the engineer has to finesse things around sidings.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 01:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
It would be übercool to see German ICEs or French TGVs running up and down without a train driver. But the question remains: when will we see a major line converted to unmanned operation only?
I try to remember of all existing unmanned operations today, and I wonder :
is there anyone already that operates "in the open", i.e. with very varied
meteo conditions (rain, snow, ice, etc) and without tires (steel wheel on
steel rail only) ? Because one of the technical problems we might still have
to solve is adhesion control...

Otherwise, I think that the technical solution might come faster than the
adhesion of the public on the concept. 300 km/h driverless might drive off
a lot of people...
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Old February 1st, 2013, 07:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
300 km/h driverless might drive off
a lot of people...
The other thing to consider is that the productivity of high speed trains is quite high, so that replacing the driver will not yield big savings.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 08:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K_ View Post
The other thing to consider is that the productivity of high speed trains is quite high, so that replacing the driver will not yield big savings.
You might think that it could increase flexibility too (capability to add extra
trains at short notice in case of unexpected high loadings, for example) but
that would mean we need trains not only driverless, but totally crewless,
which is a totally different affair...
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 05:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod View Post
It's hard to think of any major accidents involving driverless trains, except maybe the DC metro disaster.
The DC accident did not involve a driverless train. It uses an ATC system which was poorly maintained. The circuit whose failure caused the crash had been failing for days and they just didn't care to replace it.
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Old May 3rd, 2015, 06:45 PM   #11
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According to capacity, M5 line (Istanbul, Turkey) is world's second UTO/driverless rail system project. The project continues now.
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Old May 12th, 2015, 08:44 PM   #12
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This would work on France's segregated TGV network. I think this should be pressed as euro has falling populations. Labor is usually annoying and more clumsy.
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