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Old 17th Jul 2017, 20:23
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Chris the Robot
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: UK
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I don't see the UK mainline rail network becoming automated any time soon unless there is an unforeseeable change in affcordable technology. Firstly, a lot of rural routes use Absolute Block signalling, the operating principles related to this were developed in the 19th Century. Secondly, Automatic Train Operation (ATO) on the mainline network is based around ERTMS, which is a European thing. ATO is only just being introduced to the central cores of Crossrail and the Thameslink programme. They're trying to introduce it on the Circle/Met/Disict/H&C lines on the Tube and it's been delayed by over four years, that's a pretty simple network of track too. It wouldn't be economically viable to introduce ATO to a lot of routes as it stands.

Lastly, even if it's "driverless" you still need someone to dispatch it. The DLR doesn't have a "driver" per se though though a Passenger Service Agent must be present on each train to dispatch it. One politician last year came a cropper when he said he "loved" the DLR because it didn't strike, a few weeks later they walked out and the network was closed.

So I doubt train drivers will be replaced by robots any time soon. The aviation bug still bites I must admit, I don't want to get to retirement without having gotten behind the controls of a commercial jet.
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