China unveils driver-less, track-less trains

Commuters in China could soon be riding trains to work without a driver, or even train tracks.

The Autonomous Rail Transit (ART) system can carry up to 300 people at 70km/h, and travel 25 kilometres on a single 10-minute charge.

It's halfway between a bus and a train - running on wheels like the former, but consisting of carriages, like the latter.

"It is like having a virtual rail for the bus," said Feng Jianghua, chief engineer at CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive, which designed the train.

Instead of tracks it follows dotted lines painted on the road, controlled by sensors. It eliminates the need for costly rail installation, which can cost tens of millions of dollars per kilometre.

Each 30m, five-carriage ART train will cost around NZ$3 million, Mr Feng said.

"There is huge demand for urban transit systems with China's urbanisation drive," Feng said.

The first ART system will run on a 6.5km line in downtown Zhuzhou in 2018, reports Xinhua.