OBB freight train

Test track for autonomous trains in Austria

Austria has prepared a 25-kilometer long stretch of railway for the testing of autonomous trains in a realistic environment. The Ministry of Traffic supports the project with 16 million Euros.

The line is situated between Oberwart in the Austrian state of Burgenland and Friedberg in Stiermarken. It passes eight stations, twelve railway crossings and a 524-meter long tunnel. “This variety of environmental factors make it possible to test different situations that can occur during a train journey, in the context of automating this train ride”, the Austrian minister of traffic Jörg Leichtfried said. “The main aim is to test and research the digital communication between locomotive and its environment.”

From the 16 million Euro fund, around 11 million will be allocated to the carrying out of technical adjustments on the track. The remaining 5 million Euros will be granted on a yearly basis for the purpose of research in automated trains.

Other European initiatives

Dutch infrastructure manager ProRail earlier said it is looking into providing similar facilities for automated driving trains. Laying tracks with this sole purpose is not realistic, therefore it is looking at existing railways where experiments would not cause any disturbances, the company said.

“The Betuweroute is the most realistic option for such a test facility. Due to ongoing construction work on the German side of this connection, the line is not used to its full capacity. There are moments when there is limited to no traffic. Moreover, the signalling system (ERTMS) is compatible to automated driving technology.”

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of RailFreight.com, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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