Automatic Train Operation has been widely used on metro lines for decades, but the technology is now starting to unlock benefits in more challenging main line environments. Keith Barrow reports from Vienna on how the industry is preparing to seize the opportunities offered by ATO on heavy rail networks.
DUTCH infrastructure manager ProRail and rail freight operator Rotterdam Rail Feeding (RRF) have signed an agreement with Alstom to start testing automatic train operation (ATO) on a section of the Betuweroute freight line this year.
CONSTRUCTION began on a €1.5bn project to upgrade a key rail freight link between the Netherlands and Germany on January 20, when North Rhine Westphalia state transport minister Mr Michael Goschek, Mr Enak Ferlemann, parliamentary state secretary of the German Ministry of Transport, and German Rail (DB) board member for infrastructure Mr Ronald Pofalla officially launched the expansion and modernisation of the 73km Emmerich - Oberhausen line.
DUTCH infrastructure manager Prorail confirmed at this week's TEN-T Days conference in Rotterdam that it is planning to trial automated operation of freight trains on the Betuweroute dedicated freight line, which links Rotterdam with the German border near Emmerich.
DUTCH rail freight operators achieved high levels of growth last year according to a new report from infrastructure manager Prorail, which shows volumes increased 6% by both train-km (9.3 million) and tonne-km (13.6 billion) in 2015, with most of the growth occurring in the second half of the year.
THE installation of ERTMS on the Betuweroute dedicated freight line between the port of Rotterdam and the German border was finally completed on December 8, when the section between Zevenaar, Netherlands, and Emmerich, Germany, switched to ETCS from the legacy Dutch ATB train protection system.
PRORAIL has announced it will take over operation of the Betuweroute dedicated freight line from January 1, when the line's current operator Keyrail and all 60 of its employees will be absorbed by the Dutch national infrastructure manager.
FROM December trains operating on the cross-border link between Zevenaar, the Netherlands, and the German border, will only be able to use ETCS Level 2 signalling with signals along the line and the Dutch ATB-EG automatic train protection system set to be removed.