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Digitalization and automation for driverless regional trains

Climate action and railway attractiveness
The transportation sector plays a crucial role when it comes to meeting targets for climate action. As part of the German federal government’s climate-action program, Germany is aiming to achieve – compared to the 1990 levels – a 40 percent to 42 percent reduction of CO2 emissions to 95 million to 98 million tons of CO2 by 2030. Reaching this goal will require making passenger-rail offerings more attractive. Building new railway lines – which requires some 20 to 30 years from planning to commissioning – takes an extremely long time and is very costly. As a result, the digitalization and automation of train operation within the existing rail network is a key lever for rapidly achieving successful outcomes. The improvements being targeted range from shorter headways – and thus more flexibility for passengers as a result of more frequent intervals between trains – to greater cost efficiency, and they extend all the way to a clear increase in the availability of rail transportation.
Artificial intelligence and functional safety in harmony
Based on the state of the art, conventional automation technology alone will not be enough to enable fully automatic railway operation. Artificial intelligence, however, offers major potential in this area. The challenge that has remained unresolved to date is that of finding a practicable way to link AI methodologies to the requirements and approval processes that apply in railway environments. This is where Germany’s government-subsidized safe.trAIn project comes into play. This project aims to lay a foundation for safe use of AI for driverless operation of rail vehicles and to thus address a key technological challenge hindering the adoption of driverless rail transportation.
Expanding driverless rail transportation
For several years now, solutions for completely driverless and unattended operation of trains have been successfully established on the market and in operations. Until now, however, these systems have been operating exclusively in controlled and closed environments, such as subway tunnels. Now, the safe.trAIn project is focusing on applying this technology for use in regional trains. Such trains operate in more open environments in which it is necessary, in particular, to reliably recognize obstructions – such as people on the lines as well as fallen trees or mudslides on the tracks, etc.
Project goals
The project goals are to perform integrated development of testing standards and of methods for using AI to automate rail transportation and to use example applications to verify the suitability of test standards. Focal points here will be on AI-based methods for driverless regional trains, approval-relevant validation of the product safety of the AI components, as well as testing processes and testing methods. Safe.trAIn will build on the results from the latest research and development activities and will continue the development of those activities in line with the new requirements. Important projects in this area are Shift2Rail, BerDiBa, ATO-Sense and ATO-Risk, and KI-Absicherung (“AI safeguarding”).
The participating project partners would like to use the project’s outcomes to launch automation solutions onto the market that enable highly automated and driverless operation of rail vehicles. In addition, relevant results from the safe.trAIn project are to be integrated into standardization activities in the areas of AI and rail transportation.
About the safe.trAIn project
Project period: January 1, 2022, through December 31, 2024; total budget: about €23 million; 17 partners: Siemens AG (consortium leader), Siemens Mobility GmbH, BIT Technology Solutions GmbH, Bridgefield GmbH, Edge Case Research GmbH, ITQ GmbH, Merantix Labs GmbH, SETLabs Research GmbH, TÜV NORD Systems GmbH & Co. KG, TÜV Rheinland InterTraffic GmbH, TÜV SÜD Rail GmbH, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e. V., Hochschule Düsseldorf – University of Applied Sciences, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, the German Institute for Standardization (DIN), and the Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (VDE); the German Federal Office for Information Security is associated with the project and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action is subsidizing the project as part of its specialized program for “New Vehicles and System Technologies.”

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Siemens AG (Berlin and Munich) is a technology company focused on industry, infrastructure, transport, and healthcare. From more resource-efficient factories, resilient supply chains, and smarter buildings and grids, to cleaner and more comfortable transportation as well as advanced healthcare, the company creates technology with purpose adding real value for customers. By combining the real and the digital worlds, Siemens empowers its customers to transform their industries and markets, helping them to transform the everyday for billions of people. Siemens also owns a majority stake in the publicly listed company Siemens Healthineers, a globally leading medical technology provider shaping the future of healthcare. In addition, Siemens holds a minority stake in Siemens Energy, a global leader in the transmission and generation of electrical power. In fiscal 2021, which ended on September 30, 2021, the Siemens Group generated revenue of €62.3 billion and net income of €6.7 billion. As of September 30, 2021, the company had around 303,000 employees worldwide. Further information is available on the Internet at
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Bernhard Wardin

Siemens AG

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Eva Haupenthal

Siemens Mobility GmbH

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81739 München

+49 (152) 01654597