France wants to introduce self-driving trains in 2023

A man walks over a platforms during a railway strike at the Gare du Nord train station, in Paris, Thursday, June 2, 2016. (AP Photo)

French state railway company SNCF said Wednesday it wants to put driverless trains on the country's tracks by 2023.

The initial goal is to have an autonomous train prototype ready in five years for use on slower regional and freight journeys. By 2025 SNCF hopes to have self-driving trains on regular routes.

"This is clearly the future of trains," SNCF chief Guillaume Pepy said in Paris on Wednesday.

SNCF said it is investing 57 million euros (66 million dollars) to develop a prototype train that could be used on France's existing rail network, parts of which stretch back a century.

Driverless trains would expand the country's rail capacity and increase punctuality, SNCF said.

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