First Automatic Train Runs at Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress

The world’s first self-operating train, the digital S-Bahn, has made its first run at the opening of the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress (ITS) in Hamburg.

DB and Siemens present the first automatic train
DB and Siemens present the first automatic train

During the event, four digital S-Bahn trains will operate – automatically ­– along the 23-kilometere section of S-Bahn Line 21 between the Berliner Tor and Bergedorf/Aumühle stations.

A driver remains on the train to supervise the journey while passengers are on board, however the trains are fully automated, receiving control signals via radio, and can undertake shunting without the need for human staff.

Developed by Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Siemens Mobility, 60 million euros (69.43m USD) were invested into Digital S-Bahn Hamburg as part of DB’s Digital Rail Germany project.

The automatic train enables operators to transport 30 percent more passengers, save more than 30 percent of energy, and dramatically improve punctuality.

Since it features open interfaces, it can immediately be used by operators across the world for all types of trains Dr Roland Busch, Siemens’ CEO, said at the event.

Dr Richard Lutz, Deutsche Bahn CEO, said:

“We're experiencing the true turn of an era: the railroad has arrived in the digital future and Digital Rail Germany has become a reality. With automated rail operations, we can offer our passengers a significantly expanded, more reliable and therefore improved service – without having to lay a single kilometre of new track.

“It’s our goal to make rail transport attractive to ever-larger numbers of people, which is the only way we can achieve the mobility transition.”

The four digital S-Bahn trains will provide regular passenger services in Hamburg from the start of December.

Plans to digitalise the whole of Hamburg’s S-Bahn entire system before 2030 are already under way, with investments in trains and infrastructure are being made. The technology is planned for use nationwide on regional and mainline rail systems.

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