SNCF has begun developing a remote-controlled train and hopes to have a demonstrator ready to test by the start of 2019.

Launched today, the TéléConduite sur Rail project, or TC-Rail, is supported by the Railenium Institute for Technological Research (IRT), Thales, Actia Telecom and France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES).

The initial trials will focus on developing a remote-controlled freight train, but SNCF said, in the medium term, it hopes to have a system that is capable of remotely moving passenger and freight vehicles around maintenance depots.

SNCF said the main challenge was to remove the “main technical obstacles” to safe operation.

Pierre Izard, managing director of railway systems and technologies at SNCF, said [in French]: “The TéléConduite sur Rail project is at the heart of the strategy of the train of the future of SNCF. This strategy is based on the development of different levels of automation, of which the remote driving demonstrator is the first step.

“SNCF has chosen to design its autonomous train in partnership with public research and recognized and innovative industrial players. It is a strong will.”

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