Japan ready to launch self-driving commuter trains

Japan Railways JR East plans to launch automatic passenger trains in the Tokyo suburbs starting March 13. The trains will be equipped with the second level of automation, in which the operation of the equipment will be controlled by the driver, informs Railway Supply magazne referring to the Railway Gazette

Japan ready to launch self-driving commuter trains
Photos: えぬはち/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

The decision to implement the project was made in October 2019. Almost 30-kilometer section of the Joban Line was selected for this.

It is reported that the driver will be in the cab of the head car. After he initiates the dispatch of the train (from each station) using a button on the control panel, the train automatically accelerates to the permitted speed, subject to time constraints. The train then automatically slows down and stops at each station.

Joban line trains run during rush hours in the morning and evening. They pass through 12 intermediate stations between Ayase and Toride. Travel time is 35–37 minutes. At the same time, other more high-speed trains run along the line.

JR East is currently working on two more automated train control projects. In particular, tests of automatic driving technology were carried out using the E235 series electric train on Tokyo’s Yamanote loop line in December 2018.

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