The French railway company, SNCF, said on Wednesday that it aimed to introduce entirely autonomous trains on its network by 2023 thanks to a partnership with various stakeholders, including railway builders Alstom and Bombardier. “With the autonomous trains, all trains will drive harmoniously and at the same speed, and railway operations will be more fluid,” SNCF CEO Guillaume Pepy said in a press release. “And increased fluidity means better regularity and greater punctuality of the trains.”
The idea is to have more trains running on the busiest lines and also to reduce energy consumption by optimizing driving operations.
Two consortia were created in January. They are led by SNCF and Railenium, the technological research institute for railway services based in Valenciennes, France.
The first consortium comprises Alstom, the Altran engineering group, the Italian signaling company ATS (Hitachi Group) and Apsys, the Airbus daughter company in charge of cybersecurity. This group is to produce an autonomous goods train.
The second consortium focuses on travelers and has been tasked with rendering a transport express regional (TER) autonomous. It is made up of Canadian builder Bombardier, German equipment manufacturer Bosch, artificial intelligence specialist SpirOps and the Thales technological group.
The prototypes of the autonomous freight train and TER should be functional, without any conductor on board, in 2023.