Automated Driverless Trains

Discussion in 'Railway Jobs & Careers' started by stevetrain, 27 May 2015.

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  1. stevetrain

    stevetrain New Member

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    Hi folks,

    I am currently in a very secure well paid job but I really want to take the leap and take a different career path as a train driver.

    Will be looking to apply for GTR when they next advertise for trainee train driver's but if I am fortunate enough to get the job it is something I would want to stay in for the remainder of my working life say the next 30 years.

    My question is what are peoples thoughts on driverless trains? I am guessing at some stage they will be introduced and there will no longer be a need for a driver? When do people think this will happen? I am seeing more about this being introduced all the time especially on the underground.

    What are the thoughts from people who already are train drivers? Is there a lot of talk about this within the job?

    Thank you for your responses in advance
    Steve
     
  2. GrimsbyPacer

    GrimsbyPacer Established Member

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    I don't like the idea of driverless trains.
    They could be hacked by 'cyber-terrorists' which is q bit scary being on an out of control speeding train.
    Also a computer will stuggle to see if someone looks likely to fall off the platform.
    Automated trains aren't flaw proof, The "Y2K" event left a DLR train stranded for example.
    Drivers are irresplacible when something goes wrong as they can talk about what might have lead to a breakdown or notice track that's slippy or damaged.
    Automated trains are just a pingpong program with a motion sensor and drivers still need to get out of the cab and press buttons, talk to signallers and check the lineside equipment if something is malfunctioning.
     
  3. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    The glacial pace with which the British railway network implements changes, I wouldn't worry about driverless trains to anyone currently employed by any operator. On the Underground, I would say at least 20-25 years before they are introduced on the Piccadilly line.
     
  4. Dave1987

    Dave1987 Established Member

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    The amount of infrastructure required for mainline driverless train would be so immense and cost so much I would take decades to recoup the cost of doing so so I don't believe it will happen any time in the foreseeable future. Many commercial aircraft such as the Boeing 777 or the new Airbus A350 could be easily flown by one pilot due to the automation but they are still required to have two pilots.
     
  5. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    Horses for courses, - a bit out of your area but they work quite well on the DLR.

    Are you writing a script for a naff disater movie. We've already had a daft scare thread like that on terrorists hacking signals.

    Whereas a train driver just stops the train on a sixpence.

    Ah, the anti-rail progress (apochryphal?) news story. Just the one breakdown though if true as written.

    Once again the hero driver stops on a sixpence to avoid going over the damaged track. Track circuit didn't detect it. And if by 'slippy' you mean slippery which implies poor railhead conditions, wheelspin detectors can pick that one up already. They can then take action and report it back.

    Well drivers shouldn't be playing pingpong whilst on duty. :)

    Bizarre posting!
     
  6. Bodiddly

    Bodiddly Member

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    Yes, let's automate everything and then hand out free money so nobody has to work and we can all go on permanent holiday on pilotless planes!:D
     
  7. carriageline

    carriageline Established Member

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    We have established before, it will happen, the technology is there/nearly there, but:

    1) the cost is a huge factor
    2) there are many external factors that create what ifs?
    3) reliability of said technology

    Therefore, I would be surprised if we had true driverless technology in the next 30 years
     
  8. NSEFAN

    NSEFAN Established Member

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    Well, what was the point of automation? To liberate us from work or to make more work for ourselves? :D

    Can we automate this thread perhaps? I'm sure we're predictable enough that a bot could do the same job of wibbling about how humans will always be smarter than machines, or how cyber terrorists will hack the 0730 to Alton. :lol:
     
  9. 387star

    387star Established Member

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    I think there is now a backlash against automation look at self service tills and banks whilst train drkvers are very different in terms of human contact a driver is crucial in times of disruption degraded conditions etc and hell you are surely going to have to pay very well a guard in case thinks go belly up ..Nah utter nonsense may only work on the shortest of enclosed lines or underground style networks

    Furthermore passengers normally feel safer with a humna on board and the day we fully embrace machines/robots is very scary there has recently been a recognition of the social value jobs provide as well
     
    Last edited: 27 May 2015
  10. FordFocus

    FordFocus Member

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    Before this ends up as a locked, 10 page thread from various people who haven't worked a day in their life in the actual job or indeed the railway, I'll try and summarise it briefly...

    Without going into the pros and cons of Driverless Trains (mostly cons) I've got a minimum of 30 years on the railway and Driverless trains do not worry me at all. We're running life expired trains and will still have Victorian signalling until 2050, that should give you a hint of where the railway stands with technology and finances.


    Apply for the job.
     
    Last edited: 27 May 2015
  11. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

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    My thoughts exactly! :roll:

    To save the 'automation is king' brigade the effort-
    Driverless trains are fantastic blah blah blah, you will all be out of a job blah blah blah, etc etc continue ad nauseum!

    Meanwhile in the real world run by accountants for shareholders-
    I am currently a train driver and my 12 year old son wants to be a train driver when he gets the chance and I have no worries about him being booted out by Marvin* before he reaches retirement age.


    * If you are not sure what I am on about see Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy!
     
  12. Tomnick

    Tomnick Established Member

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    With a brain the size of a planet, driverless trains shouldn't be a problem at all ;)

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, I can't see them coming onto the scene in any meaningful form in my working lifetime. Others have mentioned mechanical signalling lasting until the 2050s, and I don't think that's wide of the mark - and not just small isolated pockets either.
     
  13. OpsWeb

    OpsWeb Member

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    If other industries (like Air Traffic Control, Civil aviation, merchant navy etc...) are anything to go by, technology will advance, but only to support the increase in capacity, support human operators and mitigate against human operator error.

    Technology is available for ATO but like most things in life, it comes down to cost ultimately.

    From a corporate point of view, how would you justify billions of £££ being spent modifying trains, signalling centres and track equipment for automatic trains, when you already have qualified driver's and working trains currently in place now? The general public would have to pay for it through fare rises, which I imagine wouldn't go down too well. The benefit to cost ratio would be very very low over a franchise term / financial CP.
     
  14. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    I think if you want to join the railway industry you should get a non driving job first as competition for driving roles is fierce as internal applicants get first dibs.
     
  15. stevetrain

    stevetrain New Member

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    Wow what a great response thank you everybody for taking the time to read and reply.

    I think I will apply as it is often said the competition is very fierce so if I do get the role then that's great but if not I am in a well paid stable job so certainly cant complain.

    Nice to hear the views of people who are actually in the industry thank you
     
  16. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

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    Automation comes up quite often on here and the two sides are a bit 'bitey' on the subject, don't take any of that to heart though as it wasn't in any way aimed at you!

    Get them forms filled in otherwise you wont have any chance.
     
  17. irish_rail

    irish_rail Member

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    Well with planned lives of 30 years for the new IEP and Thameslink fleets, Id say it would be at LEAST 30 years before the replacement (potentially) driverless stock replaces them...
     
  18. telstarbox

    telstarbox Established Member

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    I think the chances of the job remaining completely unchanged over 30 years is next to none (not to say there will be full automation).
     
  19. carriageline

    carriageline Established Member

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    I think we will see more ATO on the core routes (if such a thing exists!) and intercity routes? But will still have a driver up front.
     
  20. redbutton

    redbutton Member

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    Look at it this way:

    There's a significant lag time between advancements in railway technology on the continent and Japan being rolled out in the UK. For example, look at how long it will be until ERTMS is widely deployed in this country. ERTMS would be a pre-requisite for any mainline ATO system.

    The continent and Japan aren't even developing mainline ATO right now, so it'll be decades before such a system would be ready for service over there. It would then be a further couple of decades before the system could be rolled out nationwide in the UK.

    Then, even when the system is rolled out in this country, it'll take a significant period of time before the public trusts it enough to go without a human at the pointy end for safety.

    Therefore, being replaced by computers is very low on my list of hypothetical threats to my career.
     
    Last edited: 27 May 2015
  21. carriageline

    carriageline Established Member

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    Brilliant post.

    Traffic management was the "biggest" threat to my role. Seeing as that's now been scaled back/cancelled, I imagine we are a long way off yet!
     
  22. dapc

    dapc Member

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    Go in to frieght, i cant see the shunting and driving being auto controlled any time soon. sometimes i wish it was. But i would imagine Frieght trains would be the very last type of loco's to see this tech.

    over all, i wouldnt worry, 50+ years before the railway could afford it, another 20-30 years to get it working. I wont be around then.

    if your in a comfy job as it is, i wouldnt leave it to join anything but what you really want in the railway industry. On my course i was the only ex railway person and that was less than a years esperience from a different company being a dispatcher.
     
  23. anonperson

    anonperson Member

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    Some oil lit signals only went on some of the routes I used to sign a few years ago.

    More relevant is how much do you like this secure well paid job ? What are your Ts and Cs and what are the hours like ?

    If you enjoy getting up at 0220 for 3 weeks on the trot, then switching to finishing at 0220 for 3 weeks, whilst having every action you take microscopically examined then driving may be for you, if you don't................... ? ( oh and make one serious cock up and you may find out just how secure a train driving job is )
     
    Last edited: 29 May 2015
  24. scott118

    scott118 Member

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    often used as a common benchmark, airlines. They still need pilots. Where's the difference, as most flights are computer driven. Most planes even have a 'second man'...

    Apply. You've nothing to lose.
     
  25. theironroad

    theironroad Established Member

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    Japan is still actively working towards commercial maglev trains and these will not have a driver.

    I think it is a long time off before there are no staff on the train, but the driving role is certainly becoming more automated. While it seems that NRs plans are slipping in time because of cost, the vision is there for more ATO.

    If the tech is in place lineside and on board, then a DLR type arrangement could be in place, where a mobile staff member can assist where needed.

    The other thing to consider is where this will happen. Would lightly used branch lines be justified in the tech investment? Or could a small single line branch (self contained from any mainline ) actually be cheaper to run, think a glorified gatwick terminals monorail.
     
  26. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    Out of curiosity aside from ATO (which is some years away on the main line) which aspects of the driving role have become automated ?
     
  27. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    Announcements ? Ours are mostly done by the pis now. It can handle out of course working but personally I still do those manually.

    What about power operated doors ? Would you consider those as a step towards automation.

    TPWS is making a judgement and in a sense, automating the brakes when a Driver fails to bring their train under the correct control. I would go further to say that the safety systems onboard are very much computer controlled and we now simply click a button/switch/key to isolate various systems.

    Automatic parking brake. Didn't trains have manual parking brakes ?

    I'm still relatively new so I'm certainly a modern traction Driver. For me the PIS is the big one for automation.

    When I have a Guard the doors close by magic <D
     
  28. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    Hmm I'm thinking more of the actual driving 'on the road' itself rather than equipment on the train that speeds up tasks that would in the past have taken a lot longer. PIS for me isn't directly to do with driving. For example a lot of people think there is a big sign in the cab to that comes on to tell the driver to slow down for the next station.
     
  29. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    I understand your point. In terms of actual physical driving then I'm not sure. As stated I'm a modern traction driver but in terms of how far trains have come then its more dramatic.

    Looking forward from a modern perspective then I see it as a more holistic view. My job is not just to drive the train anymore. I do have to communicate with passengers as a large part of my job. The pis removed that task and in all honesty I like it being automated. I can now concentrate on driving from point a to point b without the hassle of picking up the pa.

    In-cab signalling is a step towards automation and the decision making process of driving is being removed. You basically follow what you are told to do. TMS is due to arrive in our units and is similar in that it is "instructing you" how to drive.

    Personally I would like more on-board systems to be automated. In a 319 (if set up right) all I need to do is switch the whites off and the reds are automatically up. I would love for the headlights to be fully automated. Key on - whites up, Key off - reds up.

    I do agree that the physical aspect of driving is a long way from full automation on the mainline but I am looking ato directly in the face and the computer will absolutely drive for me.
     
  30. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    The other thing I find interesting is high speed lines are probably the ones that should have been automated yet in all cases that I know of they have been designed that the driver has control and the computer only steps in if the speed curve isn't adhered to.
     
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