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German Federal Government and DB Push Ahead with Plans for 'Digital Rail Germany'

German Federal Government and DB Push Ahead with Plans for 'Digital Rail Germany'
photo: Deutsche Bahn/German Federal Government and DB Push Ahead with Plans for 'Digital Rail Germany'
09 / 12 / 2022

The German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and Deutsche Bahn are jointly moving full steam ahead with the planning for 'Digital Rail Germany'. Federal Transport Minister Dr Volker Wissing and DB Infrastructure Director Berthold Huber signed the relevant agreements in Berlin yesterday. An existing financing agreement will be increased from around 1.7 billion to approximately 2.7 billion euros. In addition, DB has received a commitment from the federal government to continue financing the planning of several projects from the so-called starter package.

In the long term, all lines and rail nodes are to be equipped with the European Train Control System (ETCS) and digital interlockings, and the old technology is to be completely replaced. The aim of modernisation: more space for trains, better punctuality and fewer disruptions - made possible by intelligently networked data from infrastructure and vehicles. In future, DB will be able to completely reorganise operations on the rail network and create up to 35 per cent more capacity.

Federal Minister Dr Volker Wissing comments: "To achieve our climate targets, we need more capacity on the railways quickly. We want to make the railways the climate-neutral backbone of our transport system. In addition to refurbishment, new construction and expansion, digitisation is a crucial building block. With the agreements concluded today, we are creating the financial foundation for introducing the ETCS train control system and, at the same time, modernising and digitising the interlocking landscape in Germany. It will directly ensure more capacity in the existing system and, thus, more services on the railways."

DB Infrastructure Director Berthold Huber says: "Given the growing traffic volumes, we need more speed to make our rail network more powerful and efficient. In the medium and long term, we are focusing on expansion and new construction projects as well as the general renovation of important corridors. However, the digitalisation of the infrastructure is a decisive key to this. Because with the digital railway operation of the future, we can bring more trains onto climate-friendly rail without the expensive and complex construction of new tracks. The agreements reached with the federal government will therefore decisively advance Digital Rail Germany."

Digitalisation boost for freight corridors

The funds that have now been made available will be used, among other things, to modernise and digitise the infrastructure on the Rhine-Alpine freight corridor. This magistral from the Dutch North Sea ports to Italy is to be equipped with the European rail traffic management system ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System). The system will significantly contribute to facilitating cross-border train traffic in Europe. Until now, locomotives and multiple units have had to be equipped with a selection of national safety systems. With ERTMS, this will no longer be necessary in the future.

In addition, DB can initiate further planning for the Scandinavian-Mediterranean corridor with around 307 million euros. The European corridor, which is also vital for freight transport, is to be fully equipped with ETCS between Denmark and Austria by the end of 2030. A total of 4,500 kilometres of track are involved.

Digital Node Stuttgart: Metropolitan Region as Global Pioneer

Another 83 million euros have been earmarked for the planning of the third building block for the Stuttgart digital node. By 2030, train operations in the Stuttgart region will also be controlled by digital technology beyond the endpoints of the S-Bahn lines. Together with Stuttgart 21, the node core will go into operation with ETCS without signals as early as 2025 - making the metropolitan region a global pioneer. 

Around eleven million euros in planning funds have been earmarked for the Cologne-Frankfurt/Main high-speed line. By 2028, DB wants to equip around 200 kilometres of the track here with ETCS and digital interlockings. This step will ensure more quality and efficiency in train operations. At the same time, systems that are susceptible to faults and older interlockings can be completely replaced.

Source: Deutsche Bahn Press Releases