The future of rail: Driverless trains trialled in Switzerland

The future of rail: Driverless trains trialled in Switzerland

The future of public transport in Switzerland is (almost) here! Trains without drivers are now being trialled in St. Gallen, with the hopes that the remote-controlled locomotives could be used in other Swiss cities soon. 

Sensor-equipped trains can read signs and route

Following the lead of some French rail services, Swiss railway operators are trialling trains that are able to read railroad signs and follow their designated route without a driver. While a member of staff will still be on the train during the trials, authorities hope the locomotives will run without a driver in future. 

To make the trial a reality, the Swiss Southeast Railway submitted a funding request to the Federal Office of Transport in 2017, which was approved on the condition that the tests would take place under government supervision. Watson reported that the trains are now in their test phase. 

20-Kilometre test for Swiss driverless drains

The Swiss Southeast Railway is testing the driverless trains on a 20-kilometre stretch of track in Toggenburg, Canton St. Gallen. The railway company stated that, “For the time being, [the test] is about supporting and relieving staff through assistance systems. This results in higher route capacities and faster turnaround times in the terminal stations. Punctuality will be improved and signal incidents should be avoided.”

Other operators are also planning to undertake tests in the future. Transport companies in Lausanne, Neuchâtel, and Appenzell are looking to have automated carriages in the future, if the tests carried out by Swiss Southeast Railway prove successful.

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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