Malaysia has something to be proud of, our Putra Heights LRT line runs on a totally autonomous concept where there aren’t any drivers. Of course, it might be easy you say but all the way over in Europe, France is also looking at this same method of moving trains but particularly for their high-speed trains. Welcome to the future of autonomous trains.
The SNCF, France’s national state-owned railway company, announced that they have plans to deploy “drone” trains alongside their existing TGV trains by 2023 with testing to begin in 2019. So why is it taking so long for them to implement autonomous trains especially when Malaysia already has something similar?
Trains which run on normal tracks outside has the tendency or inherent risk of outside factors. For example, a tree falling onto the tracks, an animal crossing or even worse, a car trying to break through. That increases the risk significantly especially when the trains are travelling at high speed. Completely different to the subway systems or overhead light rail transit which only covers a short distance.
“When you automate a subway, you can put grids along the platforms and then you’re in tunnels, we are in a completely open environment with trees, animals, people, who can enter the right-of-way and so we need a driver to handle all the disturbed situations,” adjoint Director of SNCF, Matthieu Chabanel, told FranceInfo.
The next step? How to bring the concept of autonomous trains to the train union and how that will impact the workers.