The new driver assistance system is based on ETCS Level 2, which is installed on the Bern – Olten line, as well as a system developed by SBB for energy-efficient driving called Adaptive Steering (ADL) whereby the train follows a predetermined programme designed to reduce energy consumption.


SBB says the technology for further automation of train operation must be designed to operate across borders and be standardised for freight and passenger trains. Accordingly, Swiss railways are in contact with the European rail industry to achieve this.

However, SBB made it clear that it has no plans to operate fully automatically with driverless trains. SBB’s CEO Mr Andreas Meyer believes drivers are still needed, and in any case he cannot imagine that passengers will feel comfortable without one.

“Job profiles are changing, but employees’ knowledge remains a key to targeting and using the new technology,” SBB says. “SBB is continuing to develop these new competences in dialogue with its train drivers.”

The project is part of the Swiss SmartRail 4.0 programme, in which BLS, Southeastern Railway (SOB), Rhaetian Railway (RhB), the Swiss Public Transport Association and SBB are pushing ahead with the digitisation and automation of timetabling, operation and train control. The objective is to cut costs, improve punctuality, provide more capacity and introduce new services.