FRENCH start-up Taxirail has won its first contract and will undertake a feasibility study into the introduction of its small autonomous Taxirail vehicles on a line in the Normandy region.

Taxirail, based in Brittany, was awarded the contract to undertake the study by the Caux-Seine Agglo conurbation between Le Havre and Rouen. It will examine the reintroduction of passenger services on the 19km line from Gravenchon, Port Jérome, on the river Seine, to Bréauté-Beuzeville on the Le Havre - Rouen - Paris main line.

The single-track line is equipped with 25kV ac overhead electrification and is currently served by a daily freight train from the refinery at Gravenchon to Le Havre.

A passenger service would serve Notre Dame de Gravenchon (with 8100 residents), Port Jérome (10,100 residents), Lillebonne (9000 residents), Gruchet-la-Valasse (3100 residents) and Bolbec (11,600 residents) as well as other smaller settlements.

The Taxirail system has been under development since 2018 by Exid Concept & Développement and would use a series of small driverless vehicles that can operate in platoons of two or three, rather than coupled in multiple. The vehicles would operate on-demand during off-peak periods, with passengers ordering a service through a smart phone application.

The system is unable to operate on main lines, but the line to Bréauté-Beuzeville could be separated to accommodate this.