Stadler to Build World’s First Fully Automated Overland Adhesion/Rack-and-Pinion Train

Stadler has been chosen to manufacture and deliver an automated rack-and-pinion rail vehicle for Appenzeller Bahnen’s (AB) Rheineck–Walzenhausen rail link.

This will replace the rail operator’s current train, which has been in service for more than 64 years.

Rendering of Stadler's new train for Appenzeller Bahnen
Rendering of Stadler’s new train for Appenzeller Bahnen

The newly signed contract includes equipping the vehicle with the manufacturer’s CBTC solution at GoA4, making it the world’s first fully automated overland adhesion/rack-and-pinion rail vehicle.

This is the first time that Stadler has equipped a mountain rail vehicle with its in-house CBTC solution.

At GoA4 automated, driverless operation is enabled, meaning no staff will be required on board the vehicle.

In the unlikely case that human intervention is needed, this can be undertaken remotely from the operations centre.

Fully automated railways already exist in tunnels or on closed track systems where the risk of obstacles on the line can be safely excluded – take Switzerland’s Lausanne metro, for example.

Many railways already operate as closed systems, where the track must be monitored to ensure that there are no obstacles. However, the new vehicle for AB will be a fully automated train running as an open system in free-field conditions.

This means the CBTC solution is also responsible for monitoring the track and detecting obstacles.

Marc Trippel, Head of Stadler’s Signalling Division, said:

“The implementation of automated and driverless operation on the Rheineck–Walzenhausen line is a milestone in the digitalisation of rail operations.

“The project will represent valuable pioneering work for automated rail transport on intercity routes. Railway digitalisation projects around the world will benefit as a result.”

The new vehicle is scheduled to be commissioned in 2026.

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