James Horton, Senior Architect at Ajilon Consulting discusses the future of driverless trains.
The next ten years look exciting for the future of driverless trains.
Key implementations will occur in both passenger and heavy haul operations. At the end of ten years the industry should have enough operational information to validate that this technology has realised tangible benefits.
NSW Government are implementing the first fully-automated rapid transit rail system in Australia. The North West Rail Link is expected to open to customers by the end of 2019, supporting a population above 600,000 with state of the art urban public transit service operating with driverless trains.
Over in the west, Rio Tinto’s AutoHaul® project is expected to be fully operational by end of 2015 and providing efficient rail operations for their Iron Ore mining business. This will be the worlds’ first automated, long distance, heavy haul rail network. By the end of the decade, Rio will have integrated driverless trains into their entire logistics supply chain, realising additional operational benefits beyond those typically cited for autonomous rail.
However, driverless trains are just part of the automation journey and this paves the way for integrating automation further into the business, the next step in the automation maturity model. Many new opportunities arise when integrating rail automation with logistics scheduling.
Also, the rail operations centre becomes even more critical for safe and efficient operations once the driver is removed from the train. The high quality, low latency data needs of automation are supported by an effective IT/OT managed services approach embedded in these operations centres.