Implementing Strong Rail
Under our Strong Rail umbrella strategy, we have acknowledged our social responsibility and defined our contribution to the transport and climate policy goals of the Federal Government. The guiding principle behind the Strong Rail strategy is the shift in the mode of transport towards rail with the aim of a sustainable change in climate and mobility policy. We have formulated this claim in the form of our inner ambition: “Germany needs a strong rail system. For the climate. For people. For the economy. For Europe.”
The ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court, which calls for earlier and more specific climate policy measures, will, in our view, provide another major boost to the implementation of the strategy.
A differentiated picture emerged in the first half of 2021 regarding the achievement of major DB targets. Volume sold in rail freight transport is again on a significant growth course. In contrast, passenger volumes in long-distance and local rail passenger transport continue to be adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we have already seen significant trends toward recovery as restrictions have been gradually lifted.
Overall, the first half of 2021 has shown that our Strong Rail strategy is an important and effective guiding principle for our activities, even in times of crisis.
In the first half of 2021, further progress was made in the three strategic areas: more robust, more powerful and more modern.
Strategic area: more robust
With the strategic area more robust, we have set ourselves the target of expanding capacity in terms of infrastructure, vehicles and personnel to transport significantly more people and goods with a higher level of quality.
- Despite Covid-19 restrictions, we have stuck to our course of expanding infrastructure capacity: construction projects remain at a very stable level. In the first half of 2021, in the existing network 553 km of track were built, 749 switches and 956,781 t of gravel were replaced. A total of 1,269 superstructure measures have been completed, and
376 measures, due for commissioning in the second half of 2021, were newly started in the period up to June 2021. About 2,000 individual measures are being implemented at about 1,000 stations, within the 2021 economic stimulus package. Construction has already begun at 265 stations.
- The draft of the 2040 network concept is available. The technical specification for the digital interlocking pilot is complete. Financing from Federal funds has been achieved.
- Key actions were taken as part of the “Fleet and depot expansion” building block. In the first half of 2021, eight new ICE 4 13-part trains were delivered out of a total of 50, and 32 ICE 3 trains out of a total of 50 had been modernized by the end of June 2021. From 2023, we will continue to plan for significant increases in the capacity of our maintenance depots in Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main, among others, and continue planning for new depots in Nuremberg and Cottbus. Preliminary planning has been completed for the new Cottbus depot.
- With the “100,000 employees” building block, we are ensuring that we recruit, train and retain the number of employees that it takes to make DB Group more robust overall and achieve the shift in the mode of transport. Despite Covid-19 restrictions, we continued our employment campaign using digital recruiting methods and following social distancing rules, with 16,800 job offers already issued.
Strategic area: more powerful
The strategic area more powerful has formed the anchor for our claim to increase our impact as an organization. We are focusing on achieving a high and sustainable level of performance by means of structural changes and a consistent focus on the common goal of achieving a strong rail system.
For example, the following interim targets were achieved in the first half of 2021:
- The main operational parameters of the Integrated Rail System were established using comprehensive modeling. This will allow for more focused planning and management across the relevant strategic parameters. The planning and management processes can be streamlined, which eases the regulatory organization workload.
- In vehicle maintenance, integrated process management was established in the regulatory organization.
- For the overarching processes “Provision and train run” the congestion management initiative was launched in the Frankfurt am Main area. The aim of the initiative is to reduce delays that are not caused by the delayed train itself, such as stand-still periods due to occupied tracks, trains crossing tracks in front of one another, and unplanned overtaking (so called secondary lost units).
The fifth employee building block
We involve our employees in the implementation of our strategy as part of “15 employee building blocks.” The objective is to develop additional building blocks that reflect the central concerns of employees and support the implementation of the strategy. These building blocks are created in a participation process that takes place every six months.
Four building blocks selected in 2020 were further developed:
- “Safe travel” was launched in January 2020 and aims to improve employee safety.
- “My knowledge – Your knowledge – Our knowledge” was launched in June 2020 and addresses the employees’ need to be able to access documented knowledge more easily.
- “Colleagues leave – their knowledge stays” started up in September 2020. It aims to provide access to knowledge of regulatory frameworks and to structure it in a more action-oriented way (for example by training the authors of the regulations), as well as to support the transfer of empirical knowledge that is key to success.
- “Knowing how railways run” was launched in January 2021 and aims to provide more system-related and interconnected knowledge for all managers and employees. For this purpose, a cross-business unit curriculum has now been developed, covering fundamental railway knowledge.
At the same time, during the period September 2020 to February 2021, the fifth building block “Just ask me” was developed together with a total of 315 building block participants in various virtual formats. The aim is to have employees become more involved in decision-making processes. Solutions are being developed to harness employees’ practical knowledge even more effectively.
In June 2021 the expansion wave TeamDB began. Until December 2021, we will be working with 450 building block participants to find solutions that strengthen (cross-business unit) interdisciplinary cooperation within DB Group.
Strategic area: more modern
With the strategic area more modern, we are meeting the needs of our customers for more modern and attractive products and services. We firmly believe that new forms of mobility, similar to conventional mass public transport, are part of public services and therefore only offer real added value for customers, society and climate protection if they are provided as an integrated public transport service.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been less demand for products and services using new forms of mobility. Since transport services are mainly used at the start and end of the travel chain (first and last mile), there is a high dependence on public transport demand. Notwithstanding this, there was progress in a number of projects in the more modern strategic area:
- Long-distance transport services will be expanded to include “super-fast sprinters” when the timetable change is carried out in December 2021.
- Direct connections to Frankfurt Airport have been extended to 22 stations in Germany, and intermodal transfers have been optimized.
- It is now possible to book online tickets after departure.
- An initial project for on-demand transport was set up as part of the framework contract with the Rhine-Main transport association (Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund; RMV), with more transport services being added in Essen, Offenbach, Leipzig and Darmstadt.
- The plan for fast connections in rail freight transport between major chemical plants has been completed. In combined transport, a direct connection linking the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam to major economic centers is now in service. Six multimodal express connections were added in single wagon transport (Hamburg — Cologne, Hamburg — Berlin, Hamburg — Mannheim, Cologne — Munich, Cologne — Berlin, Munich — Mannheim).
- Digital further developments accelerated the commissioning of transport services via link-to-rail.
Within the framework of the building block Environment and 100% green electricity, we have set ourselves the goal of pushing forward the Green Transformation in climate protection, conservation of resources, noise remediation and nature conservation. In the first half of 2021, for example, we concluded more contracts for the supply of renewable energy, including wind powerno. 47. In addition, we have set ourselves the new goal of making DB Group climate-neutral as early as 2040. In doing so, we are making a major contribution to the adjusted climate targets of the Federal Republic of Germany and the EU, which so urgently need to be achieved.