PROSE Examines Whether a Light Rail System Can Be Operated Autonomously in the Open in Europe


The “Waldenburgerbahn” has been operated between Liestal and Waldenburg in the canton of Basel since 1880. This traditional light rail system is now turning into a pioneer project that might make Switzerland a pioneer in the rail transport sector as it might be the first automatically controlled light rail system that is operated in the open in Europe.

All parties involved in this project face highly complex problems and break new ground. And PROSE is right in the middle – on behalf of BLT Baselland Transport AG the company provides the basis for the subsequent decision in the form of a comprehensive feasibility study.

A Leap into the Future

Originally, the Swiss Government and the SBB wanted to upgrade the Liestal station to four tracks and the infrastructure to the state of the art. These plans led to a large-scale project with the BLT as the company would have to change the gauge of its “Waldenburgerbahn” from 750 mm to 1,000 mm, to completely renew its rolling stock and its signalling system and to modernise all stations and stops by 2022. The managers of the BLT then thought “if we do it, we do it properly” and decided not to wait for the future, but to shape it itself: It is to be examined whether this light rail system can be autonomously operated through the valley in future. This would not only be a leap in the future, but a ring in for a new era.

Can Such a System be Accepted?

The involved parties know that most of the questions that will be asked during this process are not even known at present. How can the system become safe? Will there be special safety problems at the stops? Can the successful sensor technology applied by the automotive industry be used for a rail transport system? How can all components be combined to an integrated rail transport system? And can such a system be accepted at all? These are only some of the complex, but at least known questions that have to be answered. PROSE takes up this challenge.

The Study

At first, PROSE prepares a feasibility study. For this purpose PROSE analyses the infrastructure of the “Waldenburgerbahn” on the spot, identifies the technical solutions of fully automated metro systems being operated already and examines the state of the art of the technology and the sensors within the automotive industry for autonomous driving. Thereafter, PROSE examines the normative, technological and safety-related aspects. It is the objective to prepare concrete recommendations and implementation strategies for the development of the “Waldenburgerbahn” to a future express.

Engineering tomorrow’s mobility – this project gives PROSE the opportunity to once again fill its claim with life.

Original article © PROSE.


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