DB Long-Distance business unit
Events in the first half of 2020
Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic
From the beginning of March to the end of April 2020, we steadily reduced our range of long-distance transport services to a stable basic schedule which represented about 75% of the regular schedule. To do this, the DB Group was in constant dialog with the health authorities of the Federal Government and the Federal states, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the BMVI in order that appropriate operating decisions could be made in relation to the current situation. Government regulations meant that at times there were severe restrictions on national and, in particular, international long-distance transport. From mid-May 2020, services gradually started up again.
Vehicle availability was also affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. By rapidly implementing a stable basic schedule, DB Long-Distance has seized opportunities to increase vehicle availability. A balance could be struck between decreased volume produced and the performance capability of the facilities. Technical vehicle faults and malfunctions in the passenger area (for example WiFi, reservations) could be reduced as a result of decreased use. During the ramp-up of traffic to the initial level, a disproportionate increase in disruptions was avoided by reducing Covid-19-related restrictions in traffic facilities, while train quality was maintained in the destination area.
The conversion of ICE T multiple units to new-design wheel sets has been completed. This will reduce scheduled maintenance requirements and increase punctuality. The ICE T Quality Plan program, launched in the previous year, will replace or upgrade technical components of ICE T multiple units. This will stabilize the technical reliability – and thus vehicle availability – of the ICE T fleet for the next few years.
In the case of Stadler Intercity 2 trains, a further important milestone has been reached since the start of operations in March 2020. DB Long-Distance and Stadler Pankow GmbH have signed a contract for the development, integration, testing and approval of the European Train Control System (ETCS) vehicle equipment. This will involve an upgrade to the most recent version of ETCS. Approved for operation at 200 km/h in Germany, these trains represent a high-quality and future-proof part of the long-distance transport fleet.
The ICE 1 scheduled service to Switzerland ended with the timetable change in June 2020. These services are now fully covered by ICE 4. By the end of 2021, the Swiss-capable ICE 1 sub-fleet will be fully aligned with the main fleet and, among other modifications, will be converted to the new ETCS standard baseline 3.4.0.
Vehicle projects in long-distance transport
- The prototype train for ICE 1 modernization was completed and will begin its trial operation at the beginning of the second half of 2020. Among other modifications, the trains will be equipped with new seat covers, carpets, a modern passenger information system and improved drive technology.
- The contract for 30 new high-speed trains (ICE 3 neo) was awarded to Siemens AG. The first vehicles are to be used on the Cologne/Rhine-Main high-speed railway line from 2022. Seating capacity will increase by about 13,000 seats. The order volume amounts to about € 1 billion. There is the option to order a total of 90 vehicles.