Germany's rail operator Deutsche Bahn and local authorities in the port city of Hamburg are claiming a first for their new automated trains, the first to run in a mixed system with conventional trains and complex track systems.
Other driverless systems, including parts of the Paris Metro, the London Docklands Railway and many airport trains operate on dedicated tracks with no other traffic.
The trains, built by Siemens, are part of a €60 million upgrade to Hamburg's urban-and-suburban S-Bahn system, which is operated with DB. Despite the full automation, the trains will, at least for now, have a driver on board when passengers are present, just in case.
Siemens and DB say the system is capable of "a more reliable service without having to lay a single kilometre of track." Siemens says that fully-automated systems can move "up to 30 percent more passengers, significantly improve punctuality and save more than 30 percent energy." The four new trains will go into regular service in December.