Passengers ride on ATO (Automatic Train Operation) train in Groningen, Netherlands for the first time

Stadler, together with ProRail, the Provincie Groningen and Arriva Netherlands, has opened the doors of an ATO test train to a group of VIPs, taking them on a trip in the Groningen area. This is the first time that passengers in the Netherlands have been on board an ATO train which can accelerate and brake automatically. To guarantee the train’s safety, it operates under a train protection system and the supervision of a driver.

The four partners invited 50 local and national dignitaries to ride on an ATO train, taking them on a short journey around Groningen. The train ran in Grade of Automation (GoA) 2, which means that it moves automatically and stops precisely at a platform, based on the journey profile provided by ATO trackside. The train is a diesel-electric powered GTW, manufactured by Stadler and provided by Arriva Netherlands. To guarantee the train’s safety, it operates under a train protection system and the supervision of a driver.

Testing in the Groningen area started in October 2019 and comprises three parts. The current phase, part 2,  involves passengers travelling on an ATO train. The aim of the project is to evaluate the human factors of ATO usage. The project also determines the potential increase in track capacity as well as saving energy, and assesses stop precision, punctuality, speed, safety and comfort.

ATO can alleviate congestion, make journeys smoother and ensure a more reliable service for customers. It allows trains to travel more closely to each other than otherwise. It also saves energy, as trains can travel at the optimal speed, with braking being adjusted accordingly.  

This week, Stadler, the Provincie Groningen, ProRail and Arriva Netherlands are running a few test trains specifically for the general public, allowing them to experience first-hand what it is like to travel on an ATO train.

Siddhant Tomar, Chief Technology Officer at Stadler Signalling, said: “This is a very exciting project, and we are pleased that the tests have gone well. Similarly, the collaboration between ProRail, the Province of Groningen, Arriva Netherlands and Stadler on ATO is proving successful. Innovation requires the collaboration and sharing of ideas. It means sitting down and talk with passengers to understand their needs. The Stadler ATO system is one of the most innovative technological steps in the industry. It meets our customers’ expectations and paves the way to a digitalised railway.”