Passengers test automatically controlled train

A first on the Dutch railway lines, realized in Groningen

On Wednesday morning, about 50 train travellers made their first ride in an automatically controlled train. The train ran between Groningen and Zuidhorn. A first on the Dutch railway, happening in Groningen! More 250 testers will participate in test drives between Groningen and Buitenpost from 13 to 17 February. The test drives provide important information about how travellers experience driving an automatically operated train (ATO).

How do travellers experience driving an automatically controlled train? What about the braking or accelerating? These are some of the questions in the passenger survey conducted by the TNO research organization. The test drive participants are questioned before, during and after the ride by means of a survey.

Why these test drives in Groningen?

Groningen is front runner in autonomous transport. We work together with the provinces of Drenthe and Fryslân, ProRail, Arriva Nederland and Stadler. Autonomous public transport is a way to maintain and improve accessibility and quality of life in the Northern Netherlands.

The ATO technology is expected to contribute to more consistent and punctual driving. In Groningen, many track sections are single-track, which means that trains cannot cross each other and that limits the capacity on the track. With this technique, it will be possible in the future for trains to travel closer together. This is therefore an innovative solution to create more capacity on the track, without the need to build additional railway lines.

Smart & green

An automatically controlled train is also very interesting in terms of sustainability. Automatically controlled trains run in a more energy friendly and efficient way. During these tests we also investigate how much energy can be saved in this way. Automatically controlled trains are therefore very smart & green

Cruise control

ATO, with automation level 2, functions for the train operator as a kind of cruise control, also known as autopilot (Automatic Train Operation, level 2). The driver/operator remains responsible for the safe operation and driving of the train


The province of Groningen, ProRail, Arriva Nederland and Stadler (supplier of the technology) are working together on the development of ATO. In recent months, the cooperating partners have already conducted successful tests without travellers on the track between Groningen and Zuidhorn.