FRANCE: A four-axle Prima freight locomotive has been delivered to Alstom’s Belfort manufacturing site to be modified for testing as part of SNCF’s Train Autonome research programme.

Over the next two months the BB27000 locomotive will be equipped with everything necessary to demonstrate the feasibility of the concept. SNCF anticipates that the first running tests in automated mode will be carried out before the end of the year.

Once fitting out and programming is complete, the locomotive will be moved for trials to a 1 km closed test track within the Belfort site, where it will be able to reach speeds of up to 60 km/h. Apart from cameras for day and night operation, the locomotive will be fitted with two large cabinets housing computers and control equipment, along with around 600 connecting cables.

‘We have reached a key stage in the project ― it’s the culmination of a lot of work’, said Samuel Boucher who heads the Train Fret Autonome programme.

The €57m research project sees two consortia tasked with developing autonomous operations, one for freight trains and the other for passenger services. The freight partnership consists of SNCF, Alstom, Altran, Apsys, Hitachi and Railenium.