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.