THE public transport operator for the Belgian region of Flanders, De Lijn, is currently testing the use of artificial intelligence to improve the safety of light rail operations, working with rolling stock manufacturer CAF and OTIV, a Belgian start-up specialising in rail automation.

Trials are being conducted on the 67km light rail line that runs along the Belgian coast from De Panne to Knokke. This 1000mm-gauge line has a wide variety of operating environments, ranging from town centres and busy seaside resorts to quieter areas of countryside.

A CAF Urbos 100 LRV has been fitted with sensors to detect potential hazards around the vehicle. At present, testing is seeking to determine how quickly hazards are being identified and how the OTIV software can enable the driver to react more quickly.

The current phase of testing is due to be completed this autumn. Further stages could include providing live information to the driver and automatically bringing the LRV to a stand.

Testing on the De Lijn urban networks in Ghent or Antwerp is also under consideration.