On 19 October 2020, the world’s first freight train successfully controlled by Czech ATO (Automatic Train Operation) system of AŽD company under the supervision of ETCS (European Train Control System) ran on the Swiss Sierre-Sion line.
The uniqueness of this milestone is in the connection of ATO onboard and the dispatcher’s control system, which provides the train with the current timetable and route map. Both the timetable and the route map can be modified at any time according to the current traffic situation, which can achieve significant time optimization of traffic and energy consumption.
The Sierre – Sion line is equipped with ETCS level L2 system and SBB company has installed ATO track-side part on it for testing which communicated with the onboard part on the locomotive. During the first run, the train consisted of DB Cargo Switzerland 185.141-9 tractive vehicle with seven freight wagons. The Czech ATO system of the company AŽD type DriveSWing CRV&AVV was installed on the locomotive and communicated flawlessly with the vehicle and ETCS onboard unit. All communication interfaces were public and interoperable, which means that the onboard part of ATO can communicate with the track-side part of ATO of another manufacturer. This was also the subject of verification during test drives. “Perfect results of Czech systems in Switzerland confirm that AŽD can boldly rank among the best technological companies in the world, determining the direction of modern control and signaling equipment on the railway,” said the chairman of ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) at the European Railway Industry Association UNIFE Vladimír Kampík from AŽD.
The first ATO over ETCS tests took place as a so-called “technology demonstrator” in the framework of a wide international cooperation within the Shift2Rail project (public-private sector partnership to increase capacity and reliability and reduce railway life cycle costs). The task, which was tested in Switzerland, is led by the German company DB Cargo cooperating with AŽD, Alstom, Thales, Hitachi, Siemens, and other companies. Similar tests are planned for next month on the British railway network managed by Network Rail.
AŽD anticipates that cooperation with major players in the field of railway vehicle manufacturers will be established very soon with the aim of incorporating proven ATO technical solutions for traction vehicles for both freight and passenger trains as a standard part of the equipment of new modern locomotives. This will enable end users to take advantage of all the benefits of ATO system in the shortest possible time horizon, i.e. the already mentioned time optimization of railway operation and a significant reduction in electricity consumption