Tests of a self-propelled ultralight rail vehicle designed for rural railways or little-used rail lines are set to begin by the end of 2021 in France, informs Railway Supply  magazine citing the Railway Gazette.

ultralight rail vehicle
Picture: Exid Concept & Développement

As part of the project, under the Taxirail brand, one of the French regions will partner with start-up Exid Concept & Développement to showcase productivity and capabilities. The first Taxirail route is expected to be launched in 2023, when regional routes are opened for operation in accordance with a competitive tender.

Régis Coat, chairman of Exid Concept & Développement, says that discussions have been held with almost every region in France, including Brittany, where the company is based. The company is also considering exporting Taxirail, potential buyers are Switzerland and Canada.

Taxirail will weigh less than 8 tons and carry up to 40 passengers; operation of several machines will be possible. Taxirail is powered by battery or hybrid traction and uses artificial intelligence. The vehicle will operate autonomously, but will remain in constant contact with the control center. Solar power will be used to power lighting, heating, air conditioning and entertainment systems. Passenger information will be provided in real time.

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