Automating train operations promises many benefits as it enables railway companies to create a more cost-effective, stable, and efficient transport system. According to estimates, this not only saves around 15 percent of the manual effort but also significantly increases productivity. In response to these potential benefits, Schweizerische Südostbahn (SOB) wanted to research the possibilities of partially automating their regional train services.
The initial idea was to implement a degree of automation with a cost-efficient and pragmatic solution that uses existing technology and conventional external signaling. Eraneos were drafted in to help the organization decide how it could go about this and make a success out of automation.
The aim of the three-part project was to test if a level 2 of automation (GoA2) was possible to put into productive operation by mid-2022. SOB was aware that this project, which was unique in Europe, would need official approval while providing proof of its relevance.
Together with Eraneos, SOB launched a study to examine the technical aspects as well as the effects of automation from the “human-technology-organization” perspective, such as how it can impact existing train crew members. The study also integrated specialist knowledge from various railway companies and professional psychologists as well as experts such as the German Aerospace Center and ZHAW, the Swiss Institute for Aviation.
Schweizerische Südostbahn AG (SOB) is an independent, integrated railroad company managed according to private-sector criteria, which includes all the areas required by a public transport company. The trains of the SOB transport more than 13 million passengers annually and cover more than 5.7 million kilometers. If all the kilometers traveled by passengers on the SOB were added up, the total would be 262,905,130 passenger kilometers last year. Schweizerische Südostbahn AG has been ISO 9001 certified since 2005. The certification covers the entire railroad company with all business areas.
After designing, carrying out, and analyzing customer-specific simulations, we were able to
support SOB in defining the optimal project structure and in answering human, technical and organizational questions.
Successes of this project included:
- Determining the suitability of automation and simulation in operations
- The use of automation on the route network
- Questioning of the locomotive crew to decipher the acceptance of autonomous driving
- Examining further automation options and what could be feasible in the future