Driverless Operation Solutions
The different driving modes of the
Spanish high-speed trains, the technology and the
potential for driverless operations in the near future.
José A. Jiménez-Redondo, Ph.D.
The author would like to thank Talgo for their support in developing this article.
Photo courtesy of Renfe.
T The state-of-the-art in rolling stock
has evolved rather quickly in the past few
years, and high-speed trains are probably
the most innovative of all due to the very
high service quality, speed and power
automatic metros and people movers,
driverless operation has already been
ERTMS IMPLEMENTATION ON THE
In manual and semiautomatic driving
modes, the driver is responsible for choos-
ing the driving speed.
In semiautomatic mode the driver can
select a speed and the train will maintain
involved, and complex technological SPANISH INFRASTRUCTURE it, applying power or brake depending on
advances such as: ERTMS signaling system was intro- the line gradient.
• Advanced three-phase traction duced into the Spanish rail infrastructure In automatic mode, the driving speed
motors, usually induction motors, in order to achieve operations with the is provided in real time by the ERTMS.
with very high power density and maximum levels of safety and reliability. This speed is the permitted speed, calcu-
almost maintenance-free, water- ERTMS levels 1 and 2 were simultane- lated by the EVC of the ERTMS, working
cooled traction converters based ously deployed on tracks. The high-speed under full supervision mode.
on semiconductors (IGBT). trains run on level 2, and in case of failure Safety is always guaranteed by the
• Fully redundant train control and fall back to level 1. ERTMS, which prevents the actual speed
monitoring systems — consisting of In level 1, traffic management is based from going over the permitted limits re-
highly complex computer networks on telegrams sent by balises placed on gardless of the driving mode being used.
interconnecting the different vehi- fixed points along the track. The anten- The ERTMS system has been designed
cles and systems within the train. nae located under the frame of the unit’s with the maximum safety integrity level
• Signaling systems which support first vehicle receives the data and a com- (SIL); for this purpose the value is 4, in
the use of automatic train protec- puter (EVC – European Vital Computer) compliance with the European standards.
tion as the ERTMS (“European Rail processes them. For the purposes of this article, the
Traffic Management System”), etc. In level 2 such functionality remains automatic driving mode (ATO) could
To illustrate the complexity, train operative, however the main bulk of infor- be a starting point for implementing an
control and monitoring systems are, mation is exchanged via radio by means “unattended train operation” (UTO) on
from the technological point of view, of a train-wayside data communication high-speed trains.
quite similar to those onboard commer- system called “GSM-R,” consisting on a
cial jets — with the obvious differences GSM standard specifically intended for AUTOMATIC TRAIN OPERATION “ATO”
stemming from the need to control sev- its use on railways. IMPLEMENTED ON HIGH-SPEED
eral interconnected vehicles belonging TRAINS CLASS 102