Siemens and Deutsche Bahn (The German railway operator) announced in Hamburg the launch of a driverless train: it will travel in autonomous driving mode, "more punctual and with fewer emissions than conventional trains," the two companies say.
Four new self-driving railway lines will travel to Hamburg starting next December. The southern line of the network will extend from the airport, while the two northern lines will connect the S-Bahn to the city center using the existing rail network.
A detail that makes the difference
Other cities like Paris have driverless metros, but they require special tracks. Hamburg's self-driving railway system will share the same tracks as the other trains: a passage that is by no means negligible, quite the opposite. It is no coincidence that Siemens and Deutsche Bahn have called the project a "world first". The launch of the new self-driving trains is part of a € 70 million modernization of Hamburg's urban rapid rail system.
Autonomous driving, benefits for all
Richard Lutz, CEO of the German railway operator Deutsche Bahn, does not hide a great satisfaction. For him the new ones electric trains self-propelled vehicles will provide a much more reliable service, and (he adds) "without having to lay a single kilometer of new tracks".
He echoes it Roland Busch, executive chairman of the German giant Siemens. "Our goal is to make train travel safer, faster and more efficient. Self-driving trains can carry up to 30% more passengers, significantly improve punctuality and save money more than 30% of energy".
What about humans? Even though the train is fully automated, the human train operator will still be there to supervise the journeys when there are passengers on board. It is good and right.