Automatic Train Operation (ATO): innovative automation.

As part of the SmartRail 4.0 strategy, SBB is also automating train operation. The innovative assistance system for the engine driver automatically implements an energy-optimised driving profile. What’s more, it increases route capacity.

The technology of the SBB assistance system is based on the European safety standard ETCS. As a supplement to train manufacturers’ on-board equipment (ATO On Board Unit - OBU), SBB has developed and tested a trackside module system (ATO-TS). The ATO solution in its current version thus corresponds to Grade of Automation 2 (GoA2).

SBB’s goal is to test the European standard TSI for ATO and to evaluate its feasibility with ETCS L2. This is to be used to develop an open standard for an interoperable solution. Thanks to ATO-TS, vehicles with ATO-OBU from different manufacturers can be addressed and production specifications exchanged with other traffic management systems.

“We need automation to keep the railway strong”
Andreas Meyer, CEO SBB

SBB and Siemens are planning a first joint pilot test of a semi-automated train management system (GoA2) set for late August.  The locomotive driver in the cab will monitor the functioning of the systems and, after a stop, will operate the doors and reactivate ATO to continue the journey.

The ATO application is based on a conflict-free and feasible timetable. When creating the timetable, all train journeys – i.e. the overall operations – are planned as optimally as possible (in terms of energy, capacity and safety) in the Traffic Management System. The train accelerates and brakes automatically based on an optimum driving profile. Together with the other SmartRail 4.0 programmes, this can increase route capacity up to 30 percent in technical terms, which in turn means fewer investments in new line expansions and less maintenance thereof.

The benefits of ATO.

  • Increased route capacity through optimum train control
  • Improved punctuality
  • Energy saved thanks to optimum driving profile
  • Improved travel comfort

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