Advisor Innovation and Development at ProRail
Automatic Train Operation: an important building block for a modern railway industry
Why would an Inframanager (IM) be involved in the automation of driving at train? First, the future of the railway industry, including the IM, depends on its ability to modernize and innovate. Next., the Railway Undertakings (RU) are the customer of the IM: the IM must, when possible, facilitate the needs of the RU. Last but not least: improving the use of infrastructure capacity is a benefit for the IM itself.
ATO is an innovation in the core of the railway system that has a huge impact on employees, technical systems, and aspects like reliability and safety. A successful development and implementation of ATO require the cooperation of many stakeholders, including RU ‘s, IM ‘s and Suppliers.
Performing real life tests is a strategy to create focus points in the development process for all stakeholders. Testing also helps to demystify ATO. ProRail is in the process of facilitating tests in 2018.
In the view of ProRail both track side and on board systems should migrate from (connected) Driver Advisory Systems – via automatic driving with full responsibility of the driver – to Unattended Train Operation. The development of the tasks of the operators should match the development of new technical systems. A modular and expandable architecture, including the decoupling of vital and non-vital functions, must endorse all kind of mixed traffic with tracks and vehicles equipped with various levels of automation. ATO should operate in cooperation with and both ERTMS and national signaling/ATP systems.
Dr. A.A.M. (Alfons Schaafsma) has been employed in the railway industry for more than 30 years, currently in the ProRail Innovation department. His core areas of interest are operational traffic management, railway capacity enhancement and time table development, including innovations in these domains. Since 2015 he acts as the ProRail representative in European ATO working groups.