Automatic Train Operation (ATO) allows more trains to run on the existing track. This is because these automatically controlled trains run more punctually. Research into ATO in Groningen shows this. In this research it was also investigated how travellers experience travelling with an automatically controlled train. Travellers experience only a small difference.
The final report ATO exploration Groningen is finished. The research (2019 – 2020) consisted of live tests, simulation research and a traveller surveys. The experience of drivers has also been included. The tests were carried out on behalf of ProRail and the province of Groningen, together with transporter Arriva and supplier Stadler.
Basic functions of the system
The results show that trains run better on time thanks to ATO. ATO can perform the basic functions of driving independently, such as accelerating, braking, stopping at stations, driving at maximum speed and processing route changes.
Experiences of travellers
A unique feature of this research was that in February 2020, passengers could join an automatically controlled train for the very first time. It was investigated how a passenger experiences driving under ATO. What do travellers notice, for example, when a train accelerates and brakes automatically? And do they notice a difference with a regular train ride? Overall, both ATO and the regular train rides received a good rating. Travellers felt a slight difference; they rated the regular train rides slightly better than the rides with ATO. The ATO system is still under development, this result clearly shows the potential of the system.
Follow-up research is needed to gain more insight into the benefits. The organizations want to further improve the basic functions and gain more insight into timetable driving and energy consumption. This mainly involves testing the system, so no travellers will be riding along.