East Japan Railway Co (JR East) plans to test a self-driving train on the Yamanote Line during the year-end and New Year holidays. The tests will be conducted, using the latest Yamanote Line E235 series train, after the last service on Dec 29 and 30, as well as on Jan 5 and 6.
The self-driving trains will run along the entire Yamanote loop line at a speed of 34.5 kilometers per hour in order to check the vehicle’s control functions, which encompasses acceleration, deceleration, and passengers’ riding comfort, Fuji TV reported.
JR East said it is currently developing a high-performance automatic train operation (ATO) that controls all phases of train operations, such as responding to train delays and sudden speed limitations. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MLIT) is also considering to review the current standards of train driving licenses in an effort to further develop automatic driving in the future.
At a press conference this week, JR East President Yuji Fukasawa pointed out obstacles such as ensuring the safety of commuters on the train platforms and railroad tracks. According to the current regulations, driverless trains are limited to railway routes that have an elevated structure to prohibit people from entering the tracks or stations where “smart door” safety gates are installed.© Japan Today