DB Netz: Digitalisation can result in up to 35 per cent more rail capacity
Like in many other European countries, the German rail sector is currently reaching its growth limits. In addition to bottlenecks in rolling stock and employees, there is also a lack of infrastructure capacity, says Philipp Bührsch, director of Digital Rail Germany at DB Netz AG. “It is neither financially nor socio-politically feasible to grow in capacity through a classic expansion of the route network.”
“Over 40,000 train journeys are made every day on the German rail network. We have an occupancy rate of well over 100 per cent on certain sections, for example between Cologne and Dortmund of up to 140 per cent.” According to Mr Bührsch, substantial investments are necessary to maintain and extend the partly outdated, and prone to failure, railway infrastructure.
86 billion euro’s available
“The new agreement between the German government and Deutsche Bahn earlier this year was an important step: By 2030, 86 billion euro will be made available to maintain the rail infrastructure in Germany. At the same time, new construction projects are pushed forward. In addition, DB and German Government see the digitalisation of rail transport as an important and central component,” explained Philipp Bührsch.
Deutsche Bahn is convinced that digitalisation of railway ensures more capacity, more reliability and more efficiency. The gain in capacity through the new ETCS train protection system is of fundamental importance for DB. “Our route network will be able to offer up to 20 per cent more capacity in the future. By digitising rail operations, for example using AI-supported traffic management with train integrity, additional up to 15 per cent can be added. This results in up to 35 per cent more rail capacity – without building one kilometre of new tracks. It is neither financially nor socio-politically feasible to do this through a classic expansion of the route network,” added Mr Bührsch.
Philipp Bührsch is director of the Digital Rail Germany program at DB Netz AG. In addition, he heads the investment program ETCS / DSTW and is program leader ETCS – Strategy and Technology at DB Netz. In his presentation at the RailTech Infra Forum, he will provide an overview of the upcoming fundamental modernization of the German railway infrastructure, with an emphasis on digitalisation by ETCS and digital interlockings.
Philipp Bührsch is a keynote speaker at the digital conference RailTech Infra Forum on 17 and 18 June. Visit the conference website to register and see the full programme.
Thanks for some initiative statements which promises some additional capacity. Unfortunately the accident by exploring a tunnel for the new railway line Karlsruhe Basel showed that a lot of investments is infrastructure is necessary to maintain railway traffic flow as a series of secondary lines are up to now not sufficiently equipped and the existing infrastructure is not prepared to compete with an increase of rail transport.
DB netz should contact SBB Infrastruktur. They updated a line in 2017 from ZUB/Integra (swiss safety devices) to ETCS level 2. They expected a 30% capacity increase. It seems afterwards that the capacity of this track has dropped from 10%.