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Automatic train operation (ATO) is an operational safety enhancement device used to help automate operations of trains. This is achieved according to the Grade of Automation (GoA) present, up to GoA 4 level, where the train is automatically controlled without the presence of staff on board. Mainly, it is used on automated guideway transits and rapid transit systems which are easier to ensure safety of humans. Most systems elect to maintain a driver (train operator) to mitigate risks associated with failures or emergencies.

Many modern systems are linked with Automatic Train Control (ATC) and in many cases Automatic Train Protection (ATP) where normal signaller operations such as route setting and train regulation are carried out by the system. The ATO and ATC/ATP systems will work together to maintain a train within a defined tolerance of its timetable. The combined system will marginally adjust operating parameters such as the ratio of power to coast when moving and station dwell time, in order to bring a train back to the timetable slot defined for it.

Types of train automation


According to the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), there are five Grades of Automation (GoA) of trains:[1][2]

Notable examples


  • The Rio Tinto Group "AutoHaul" system on its iron ore railways in the Pilbara.[12] This system is GoA 4 capable, able to run trains without a single person aboard for the entire trip out to the mines and back to the port. In October 2017 the first fully autonomous test took place over a 100 kilometres (62 mi) section.[13] The group was granted accreditation by Australia’s Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, approving the autonomous operation of iron ore trains in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.[14]

Future


Many railways are planning on using ATO.

See also


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