Germany accelerates digitalisation of railways

Railway lines in Germany will be equipped with digital interlocking technology by 2035, five years ahead of the original schedule. The country’s government will allocate 500 million euros to speed up the programme. In addition, the pilot project for deploying ETCS started in Stuttgart.

Deutsche Bahn joined forces with the German Railway Industry Association (VDB) and the Federal Railway Authority (EBA) to move further in digitising rail operations. The parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Wednesday, 2 September. According to the document, the digital interlocking technology (DSTW) will be deployed in ten German regions by the end of 2021. To this end, the Federal Government of Germany will fund 500 million euros. Meanwhile, the nationwide rollout will be completed by 2035 instead of 2040, as it had been planned before.

Digital interlocking

The DSTW technology was developed by Siemens Mobility. It is a new stage in the development of interlocking as the system allows to forget about cable bundles to be deployed along the tracks. Instead of this, the solution provides a reliable option for railways to transmit switching commands at much greater distances via a data line. For the first time ever, the digital interlocking was rolled out on the Annaberg-Buchholz – Schwarzenberg test railway in the Ore Mountains. Siemens Mobility is regarding the DSTW solution as an important step toward interlockings in the cloud.

ETCS pilot projects

In late August another digital project started on the German railway network. It is related to the deployment of the European Train Control System (ETCS) in the Stuttgart Metropolitan Region. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) will invest around 463 million euros in this pilot project, which was designed for the period up to 2025. From 2025, long-distance, regional and S-Bahn trains will run in the Stuttgart junction on a network equipped with the latest digital technology

Are you interested to know more about ETCS and rail digitalisation? These issues will be discussed during the second edition of the RailTech Infra Forum virtual conference to take place on 30 September and 1 October. To know more, visit the event website and register to participate.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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