Andreas Vogler Studio is to undertake study into the use of autonomous trains in Bayern

Photos: Andreas Vogler Studio; Sketch by Robert Künzler, a|p|t design

GERMANY: A study into the potential automation of rural passenger train services has been awarded funding, with a branch line in Oberfranken selected for testing.

Announcing the funding on February 16, Bayern’s Transport Minister Kerstin Schreyer said rail services could be well suited to automation, and the BahnAutonom Bayern 2029 project would contribute towards ensuring that rural areas could benefit from the transition, and that the region would have a pioneering role in its development.

The Land Ministry for Housing, Building & Transport has allocated an initial €11 400 for a preliminary study, with the Innovation & Zukunft foundation providing a further €19 000.

The study is to be co-ordinated by architecture and design company Andreas Vogler Studio, which has worked on rolling stock design and is a member of the Bayern railway technology cluster. Participants will include APT Design, the IFZN institute for vehicle technology in Nürnberg, Intelligence on Wheels, Stadler Signalling and Agilis, which operates services on the 15 km Forchheim – Ebermannstadt branch line north of Nürnberg which is envisaged as a potential test route.

The project aims to gain an understanding of the technical, economic and supply issues involved in the cost-effective and highly automated operation of branch lines. The individual tasks and milestones will be defined and examined in detail, additional industrial and project partners identified and possible obstacles to implementation removed. The results of the preliminary study are expected to be available in summer this year.

An autonomous demonstrator rail vehicle is planned, to help to build public trust and pave the way for what the parters said could be ‘significantly more attractive, environmentally and resource-saving local rail transport in rural areas’.