The JR East railway company operated a high-speed train remotely. 5G plays a role in this.
Not at full speed, but automated: The Japanese railway company East Japan Railway (JR East) has tested the automated operation of a high-speed train.
The E7 Shinkansen train was traveling with twelve cars in Niigata Prefecture on the main island of Honshu. After the driver had activated the appropriate mode, the train drove automatically. He was controlled by a control center.
It was the first automated test run of a commercial high-speed train in Japan, reports the Japanese daily The Japan Times. It was quite short: the train went five kilometers from Niigata station to the depot. The train did not reach its top speed of 260 km/h but was only traveling at 110 km/h.
The Security Staff Did Not Have To Intervene
For safety reasons, employees of the railway company were on board the train in order to be able to intervene in an emergency. But that was not necessary: the test was successful. The train missed its planned stop in the depot by about eight centimeters. JR East had set a margin of error of 50 centimeters. A JR East employee said afterward that the stopping technology was almost as good as that of a train that is being controlled by a person.
In order to operate a train automatically and remotely, it and the tracks must be continuously monitored. A prerequisite for this is a seamless data connection. JR East is testing the use of local 5G services for this.
In this country too, the railway is concerned with automated train operations. In Hamburg, for example, the first highly automated S-Bahn in Germany has been in use since last month.
The test is part of JR East's Move Up 2027 program. This provides for the automated train operation to save costs and to compensate for a shortage of workers. JR East does not yet have a plan for when trains are to be automatically used in regular operations.