Germany accelerates rail digitalisation with 500 million euros

source: DB / Digital Rail Germany

The German federal government, Deutsche Bahn and the industry will jointly accelerate the digitalisation of the rail network in 2021. Seven regional routes will be equipped with digital interlocking this year with 500 million euros of funds from the Corona stimulus package. Through the Digital Rail Germany programme, all of the conventional systems should be replaced by 2035.

The digital interlocking technology that will be installed this year will replace old interlockings types and those that are not compatible with the European Train Control System (ETCS). The new technology replaces conventional systems of various types in North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Thuringia and in the Free State of Bavaria. With the upgrade, more trains will be able to run on the existing tracks in the future, and reliability and punctuality should increase.

Acceleration programme

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, DB and VDB had agreed to use the funds and an acceleration programme in 2020. 100 million euros were already spent last year, 400 million euros will follow this year. With the acceleration programme, the retrofitting will also get a boost overall: by 2035, digital technologies will be installed in entire Germany. Both passengers and freight transport customers will benefit from more capacity and quality of the rail.

Ronald Pofalla, DB Infrastructure Board Member: “We are now on the move with the Digital Rail Germany programme in turbo mode. Working closely with the rail industry, we are digitising interlockings in seven regions of Germany this year. Rail travellers and freight transport benefit from a larger and more reliable rail service.”

High-speed programme

Seven industrial companies sign the first contracts of the so-called high-speed programme with DB Netz AG. The program brings stable orders for industry. Many innovations are being used for the first time, new companies are entering and standards are being established for digital technology. For the industry, the investment programme means securing numerous jobs during the pandemic.

“The rapid implementation of the high-speed programme clearly shows that the technologies are ready – we are ready to usher in a new era of rail transport with digitalisation and automation”, says Andre Rodenbeck, President of the Association of the Railway Industry. “For more climate protection, for a completely new travel experience and a strong economy.”


Enak Ferlemann, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure: “The Digital Rail Germany (DSD) is rapidly picking up speed. Now we have to use the experience from the pilot projects to further reduce costs and construction times in the further implementation of digital interlockings. At the same time, we are looking at a broadening of the programme’s approach, for example in order to be able to implement the ‘Deutschlandtakt’ even faster through digital capacity management.”

The Deutschlandtakt is a concept of Germany-wide integration of the individual timetables, and a more efficient rail infrastructure. It is a plan for the infrastructure planning, not the provision of rail services. The target timetable provides half-hourly intervals on the most important long-distance connections. On the basis of the timetable, new lines and other infrastructure measures are to be implemented.

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Author: Esther Geerts


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