The first fully automated train is revealed by Deutsche Bahn

Waves have been made in the world of rail transportation with advancements in automation. On October 11th, the world's first driverless and fully automated train was revealed in the city of Hamburg by Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Siemens Mobility.

The €60 million Euro investment premiered its run as part of the Digital S-Bahn Hamburg project. What sets this apart from airports with driverless shuttles is how the technology involved enables this fully automated train to run on existing rail infrastructure including the tracks, signalling and overhead cables in conjunction with normal person driven trains.

Dr. Richard Lutz, CEO of DB commented: “Today we’re experiencing the true turn of an era: The railroad has arrived in the digital future and Digital Rail Germany has become a reality. With automated rail operations, we can offer our passengers a significantly expanded, more reliable and therefore improved service – without having to lay a single kilometer of new track. It is our goal to make rail transport attractive to ever-larger numbers of people, which is the only way we can achieve the mobility transition.”

Dr. Roland Busch, CEO of Siemens AG said "We are making rail transport more intelligent. Trains drive the perfect timetable automatically, accurate to the second and energy-optimised… With our technology, our customers can transport up to 30 percent more passengers, significantly improve punctuality and save more than 30 percent energy. The digital S-Bahn Hamburg marks a world premiere. The new technology has already been officially approved and, since it features open interfaces, can immediately be used by operators worldwide for all types of trains.”

Commenting on the potential not only for Hamburg but on a global scale, the First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Dr Peter Tschentscher said: "Digitisation holds a lot of potential for the entire Hamburg S-Bahn network. We are creating greater capacities on the existing tracks and improve reliability and punctuality of rail travel. The premiere of the digital S-Bahn at the ITS World Congress is a strong signal for efficient and climate-friendly mobility of the future."

The Digital S-Bahn Hamburg project involves leveraging an existing rail infrastructure (where possible) through digitalisation in order to integrate innovative technologies. DB consider artificial intelligence and automatic train operation as the future normal.

In Phase Two of the Digital Rail initiative we’ll start to see the full potential of the digital rail system: trains will run closer together in fully automated operation, controlled intelligently and automatically in real time, using sensor technology to detect their surroundings and position. System architecture has been drafted to specify what will be required from individual components of the rail system, and how the components will need to work together. Working from this architecture, a multitude of digital technologies will be tested and improved for use in the rail system, making it safer, more cost-effective, and more efficient.