Development of business units

Inspection and replacement of concrete ties

Since summer 2022, DB Group has been running a precautionary program for the inspection and replacement of concrete ties. The inspection program was initiated as a result of the train accident in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on June 3, 2022. The cause of the accident has not yet been conclusively determined. Based on current knowledge, defective concrete ties seem to have led to the tragic accident. Immediately ­after the first suspicion of a possible manufacturing defect as the cause of the accident, DB Group initiated a special inspection program for concrete ties. Initially, around 200,000 ties of a particular construction type and manufacturer were included nationwide.

Additional material-technical investigations showed some irregularities in the material quality of the ties. Further detailed investigations show that a specific type of rock used in the production of concrete ties could also be responsible for the damage. As a further consequence, based on these findings, DB Group tested a further 130,000 ties with the same type of rock nationwide in November 2022. The inspection program was extended to include other manufacturers.

From the outset, the following was and still continues to apply: wherever DB Group discovers particular abnormalities in the concrete ties during its inspections, these are replaced as soon as possible. In order to ensure safety in railway operations, trains can only travel at lower speeds until the concrete ties are replaced in the affected sections of the line. In some cases, DB Group has to close lines even before the actual construction work begins.

DB Group has also set up a group of internal and external experts to continuously examine possible further preventive measures for the maintenance of concrete ties. In April 2023, DB Group once more tightened the regulations for monitoring concrete ties. DB Group has used findings from inspections and investigations carried out so far as an opportunity to extend the already high standards of existing inspection and maintenance processes: according to these findings, stricter criteria will apply in the future when classifying damaged concrete ties manufactured using the same type of rock.

As a result of this preventive inspection program, DB Group is replacing around 480,000 concrete ties in 2023. This involves around 400 additional construction sites in the rail network, which have a significant impact on passengers and freight transport customers. DB Group is working hard to remedy all impairments as quickly as possible.

DB Group will compensate affected train operating companies for the damages actually incurred in connection with the inspections of the concrete ties and the resulting measures. In 2022, DB Netz AG agreed on compensation payments to intra-Group and non-Group customers totaling € 9 million. The current regulations will continue to apply to the current extension of the program.

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