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Digital Rail for Germany

Together with the BMDV, the Federal Railway Authority (Eisenbahn-Bundesamt; EBA) and the sector, we agree to drive forward and implement the Digital Rail for Germany project. In addition to securing financing (for infrastructure and vehicle equipment), this will require, among other things, series-ready technology, optimized processes for planning, implementation and commissioning, sufficient radio capacity and the securing of personnel resources. The entire sector is constantly involved in the implementation of a Digital Rail for Germany project together with the Federal Government.

As part of the starter pack, the specific planning and rollout of the European Train Control System (ETCS) and digital interlocking started in 2020 in the context of the Stuttgart Digital Hub, the Cologne — Rhine/Main high-speed rail line and the ability to traverse the Scandinavia — Mediterranean trans-European corridor. Stuttgart will be the first region in Germany to receive the digitalized command and control technology under the Digital Rail for Germany project. We intend to implement highly automated driving. The retrofitting of the relevant vehicles is subsidized by the BMDV.

To accelerate the rollout of digital interlockings, the Federal Government has provided additional funds amounting to € 500 million for a high-speed program from 2020 to 2022. Across a total of seven projects, the existing signaling and railway crossing safety technology will be replaced by the Digital Rail for Germany digital systems. This program will be used for developing and testing new processes and technologies together with the railway industry in order to equip the network comprehensively with digital interlockings. The expanded and modernized signaling system from the program went into operation in Finnentrop in the first half of 2022. Key milestones have also been reached in the digitalization of the rail system:

  • As part of the Digital S-Bahn (metro) Hamburg pilot project, highly automated rail operations based on Automatic Train Operation (ATO) and ETCS as well as the fully automated shunting process were demonstrated at the ITS World Congress in October 2021. Qualifications and training sessions are currently being provided for other traction unit drivers. From July 2022, ATO and ETCS trips will be planned for daily passenger services.
  • Together with our project partners Siemens Mobility, Bosch Engineering, ibeo automotive and HERE Technologies, we have equipped another S-Bahn (metro) Hamburg train with state-of-the-art sensors as part of our joint project Sensors4Rail. The 14 sensors record information about the area around the train using the speed camera, lidar and camera systems. The sensor information can be matched with a digital card to precisely position the vehicle. In future, trains will be able to be controlled optimally based on this data, and run at shorter intervals. At the ITS World Congress, the Sensors4Rail project was demonstrated for the first time on the S-Bahn S 21 (metro) line between the Bergedorf and Hamburg Dammtor stations. From 2022 to 2023, we will continue testing the technology in continuous operations. Data will be collected and scenario tests will be carried out to improve the (AI-based) functions.
  • At the digital rail test site in the Erzgebirge region, switches and signals for the local railway (Erzgebirgsbahn) have already been digitalized in the Annaberg — Buchholz section. This is complemented by the expansion of a 5G test network along the Markersbach — Schlettau section. In 2021, a research environment with eight 5G radio masts along the line was completed and put into operation. Various innovative technologies relating to the new Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS)/5G standard were tested for use in operation. Together with Ericsson and Rohde&Schwarz, new antenna technologies were tested for the rail radio network, for example. Findings from the tests serve to optimize radio network planning with regard to future digital rail applications. With the help of Federal Government funding, reconstruction of the freight yard in Scheibenberg began in 2022. A technology and data center will be set up for the digital test site in future. We have already begun equipping the line with GSM-R and ETCS for operational tests in 2022 and expect the work to be completed in 2023. We are also coordinating testing at the digital rail test site.

Digitalization and innovation

DB Regional business unit

  • The regular bus service remains a central component of strong local public transport, but it will not realize its full potential until it is linked up with a large number of other services, such as on-demand shuttles. This is the conclusion of the Mobility Turnaround 2030 Study from DB Regional Bus and the Fraunhofer Institutes IESE (Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE) and IML (Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML). We are pursuing this approach at mobility hubs, such as the Stuttgart-Vaihingen metro station: Passengers can book many climate-friendly mobility services in a digital network and use them flexibly.

DB Cargo business unit

  • With m²system, DB Cargo offers an innovative freight car system. In 2020, DB Cargo along with the railway freight car lessor VTG constructed a modular and multifunctional carrier car that offers new opportunities for vehicle design. Different containers and superstructures have been developed to match the m² carrier car. The aim is to adapt the cars to customer needs more quickly and in a more tailored way, thereby achieving greater flexibility. The m²system is unique in Europe. DB Cargo’s single-wagon-­capable freight car system has been fully approved since June 2021. Since then, DB Cargo has been driving the market launch. The market launch of the first pre-produc­tion series for various types of goods is partly funded by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (Bundes­ministerium für Digitales und Verkehr; BMDV) program Future of Rail Freight Transport. The coil, scrap and timber applications were technically validated by November 2021, the first cars were delivered and tested for customer use by March 2022. Capital expenditures in climate-friendly and modern technology are shaping the new face of rail freight transport – green cargo. This is also the case with the m²-coil-scrap concept: a logistical solution for steel industry cycles. m² transports coils from the steelworks to the automobile manufacturer and takes steel waste products back to the steelworks for recycling. The containers can be handled by crane and truck – ideal for intermodal transport in single wagons. This gives customers without sidings access to rail. m² thus gets more goods onto eco-friendly rail.
  • Digital automatic coupling (DAC) (2021 Integrated Report) is one of the most important innovations for a green transport transition. The research project DAC4EU, which has received € 13 million in financing from the BMDV, has been running since June 2020. Thanks to the ongoing process tests, the DAC demonstration train is now making significant headway in the second phase of the project: in shunting operations under realistic conditions and on various routes in Germany and Europe. The DAC was presented to representatives of the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Federal Government and the industry together with SNCF in Strasbourg on June 7, 2022. DAC technology enables a continuous electricity and data supply to the trains. It provides the basis for the automation of further processes and is a platform for the automation of train composition and dispatching. In this way, the DAC creates process buffers, reduces the cost per unit and increases availability through data-based control. In addition, the DAC is a prerequisite for ETCS Level 31, enables longer, heavier, faster freight trains and accelerates train handling. This enables the existing infrastructure to accommodate more trains and makes capacity increases possible. DAC also enables the elimination of complex manual processes at customers’ and freight forwarders’ premises. These are the prerequisites for better shipment transparency and significantly higher flexibility and reliability of the transport chains in rail freight transport. The most important prerequisites for the successful implementation of this digitalization and automation of rail transport in Europe are a uniform European standard, viable promotion and financing of the introduction of DAC and the smooth conversion of freight cars and traction units in Europe without any major impact on customers. Important steps on the way to promoting and financing the introduction of DAC are the European Cost-Benefit Calculation for DAC and the European Investment Plan for DAC, both of which are currently being developed at the European level.

DB Netze Stations business unit

Passenger information of the future

The hardware and software for the next generation of dynamic visual displays (DSA+) were completed. The field test on the selected stations started in May 2022 with devices from the first of two suppliers. In the second half of 2022, the devices from the second supplier will be tested in real operations in the other stations.

Smart City at DB Netze Stations

With Smart City | DB we are seeking to improve everyday life through smart and eco-friendly services and to better integrate stations into municipalities and cities. In the first half of 2022, we were able to take further innovative development steps, such as:

  • Increased quality of stay: The self-developed free-space kit creates more attractive station forecourts with its pleasing design and colorful furnishings. In addition to seating and greening elements, the free-space kit provides opportunities for local services and events and integrates the station even better into the surrounding neighborhood. In 2022, bright urban furniture was placed in three locations: in Berlin-Charlottenburg (seasonally from July to September 2022), Kassel (since June 2022) and Hanover (from September 2022).
  • Focused work at the station: With our everyworks co-­working offer, we are giving passengers the opportunity to do their work in the station. In February 2022, an additional location was opened at the central station in Frankfurt am Main together with our partner Intercity­Hotel. A workspace has been available to our customers in Mannheim central station since July 2022. Further site openings are planned for 2022.
  • “Collection point”: Automated transfer points in the “last mile” around the station are to be used for a number of services (such as handover of keys, package and shopping deliveries) for all providers. As part of a new cooperation with Deutsche Post DHL, approximately 800 additional DHL package stations will be set up across Germany by the end of 2023.
  • Smart, smarter, Hanover: The starting signal sounded for the Smart City partnership with Hanover on May 12, 2022. We want to offer attractive services in the stations together. Plans include comfortable waiting area furniture, new bike services and mobility hubs that pool sharing vehicles for onward travel from the station, micro depots and smart packing stations.


DB New Mobility

DB New Mobility groups together DB Group’s range of new mobility solutions. These include the offers from iokiMobimeo and CleverShuttle and the productse Call a BikeFlinksterBonvoyo and Curbside Management from DB Connect

The DB New Mobility ecosystem is working together to make local public transport more attractive and addresses public-sector bodies such as municipalities and transport associations, as well as B2B customers, with its integrated range of services.

  • In the first half of 2022, CleverShuttle started six on-demand transport services in Aschaffenburg, Neustadt an der Donau, Rosenheim, Dresden, Kassel and Hanau. In addition, CleverShuttle was instructed by Kreisverkehrsgesellschaft Offenbach mbH (kvgOF) to expand the operation of the Hopper on-demand transport service. From autumn 2022, the service is to be extended to six new municipalities in the Offenbach district. With over 40 vehicles, expanding the Hopper will make it the largest public passenger transport-integrated on-demand service in Germany.
  • ioki was able to further increase its position as a trailblazer for digital needs-based mobility and mobility analyses. On-demand transport services with the ioki software received the German Transport Transition Award 2022 from Allianz pro Schiene e. V. (Pro-Rail Alliance) in the first half of 2022 and were awarded the Reallabore 2022 innovation prize as part of the Reallabor Hamburg (RealLabHH) research project. The most important project launches in 2022 so far include the start of the city shuttle in Aschaffenburg, a new autonomous on-demand service in Bad Birnbach, and joint services in Neustadt an der Donau and Chiemgau with the DB subsidiaries DB Regional Bus and CleverShuttle.
  • As a technology partner of the industry initiative Mobility inside (Mi), Mobimeo is developing the front end of the Mi white-label apps. For the first six participating transport associations, the apps, which connect public transport across regions, were successfully launched on the market in spring 2022. At the same time, the DB Strecken­agent (route agent) app was relaunched by DB Regional based on Mobimeo’s Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform. It offers easy access to real-time information in public passenger transport across Germany.
  • Curbside Cockpit, a software application from DB Connect and DB Systel, helps to connect local transport and sharing services more efficiently. To do this, designated parking areas are digitally regulated, promoting the correct parking of mobility services. GPS data and structured mobility zones help municipalities and cities to give mobility providers and users a better location-based overview of sharing services. Curbside Cockpit has been operated as a pilot project since November 2021 at the Stuttgart-Vaihingen station as a mobility hub. Further DB Connect services: Bonvoyo and HVV will continue the cooperation in 2022 after the successful completion of Reallabor Hamburg with the goal of making the mobility budget the travel companion of all employees in Hamburg. Flinkster, the largest station-based car-sharing network in Germany, was given the award for the best online portal in Germany in 2022 by the German Institute for Service Quality and the n-tv news channel.

DB Schenker business unit

  • The partnership between DB Schenker and Volocopter aims to offer solutions in the area of Urban Air Mobility (UAM). After a successful initial demo flight in October 2021 in Hamburg, DB Schenker, together with Volocopter, is planning additional flights with Volocopter in order to test the commercial potential of VoloDrone, a versatile heavy-load cargo drone for logistics and transport applications. In addition to middle-mile deliveries, the drone is also suitable for other applications in coastal and mountainous regions and maritime applications, such as country-to-country deliveries. Although not all logistical operations can be handled by drones, heavy-load cargo drones can play a crucial role in sustainable supply chains. In the first half of 2022, the focus was on selecting and analyzing initial flight routes for operational use. In
    addition to analysis of legal and technical aspects, the potential for savings from direct GHG emissions has been investigated in particular. The ideal, optimized 21st century supply chain will require a mix of electric drones, autonomous trucks, climate-neutral freight aircraft and climate-neutral container ships.
  • With Avatour, DB Schenker has developed a virtual warehouse inspection that enables audits to be carried out completely remotely. By using a standard video conference, Avatour gives remote users the option of freely selecting the viewpoint in full-picture mode within a VR session. The platform uses mobile 360° video recording technology in real-time and can be used via laptops and VR goggles. The technology allows participants to be close to the action with their own avatar and interact with up to 25 participants. The benefit is that DB Schenker can offer its customers an exclusive service and the operating personnel can be trained virtually, which saves on GHG emissions. In the first half of 2022, 20 trips were carried out with a total of 132 participants. This saved about 109 t of GHG emissions, assuming that each of these parti­cipants would have had to travel from Germany to the various locations. Thirty-one locations worldwide are currently able to carry out these trips.

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