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Autonomous trains: how will they improve rail transport of goods?

Autonomous trains: how will they improve rail transport of goods?

Rail transport of goods is a very effective form of mass transport. Therefore, the railway is also not lagging behind with modern technologies. Work on autonomous trains has been ongoing for several years.

Traditional trains have certain limitations, e.g. the need to be operated by a driver, which may lead to human errors and delays. Therefore, the safety and punctuality of delivery depend largely on the staff, and there are fewer and fewer experienced drivers every year. These challenges are met by autonomous systems using modern technologies such as artificial intelligence, sensors and algorithms enabling unmanned driving.

The future of autonomous trains in goods transport

Since October 2021, Germany has been testing unmanned trains in Hamburg on a 23 km section. In Copenhagen, the first tests of autonomous trains are scheduled for 2028. Intensive work on modern railway solutions is ongoing. However, as experts emphasize, the introduction of autonomous trains does not mean that staff will no longer be needed. Train drivers will still find employment in the future, but their role will change. Staff will remotely control on-board systems, monitor the route and respond to emergencies. Automation allows for an increase in the number of trips, which will have a positive impact on train capacity. Ultimately, autonomous trains will allow for higher speeds, which will significantly shorten the delivery time of goods. Additionally, the lack of a driver's cabin will allow for increased cargo and passenger space. When mentioning autonomous trains, it is also necessary to mention the minimal emissions of Co2 into the atmosphere. Of course, even traditional trains are one of the greenest forms of freight transport. Thanks to Big Data, which collects and processes huge amounts of data, autonomous vehicles can optimize the route themselves based on current information. However, it is worth keeping in mind that autonomous trains are still in the testing phases. It will likely be many years before they completely replace traditional trains. We should also remember about the need for countries to invest in modern railway infrastructure, enabling movement on rails. However, financial involvement in modern technologies is profitable. Autonomous trains can have many benefits beyond those mentioned above. These are undoubtedly economic as well as logistical benefits. An important advantage is the reduction in employee employment costs, because with autonomous trains the need for a crew is much smaller. However, the person will be able to control several relationships in the future.

Transport of general cargo by rail

Rail transport is used, among others, for the transport of general cargo and constitutes a large part of global exports. The most frequently transported small products are electronic and household goods transported in containers. Therefore, rail is an alternative to sea freight due to its competitive price and delivery time. The organization of such transport using autonomous trains will involve space optimization, as in the case of planning traditional transport. So if you are wondering how to arrange goods on a pallet or how many pallets will fit in a container or trailer - use Smartload!

Read also: Rail transport of goods - advantages and disadvantages