© DB AG / Faruk Hosseini

We recycle electricity 

As Deutsche Bahn, we have set ourselves ambitious climate protection targets. We want to be climate-neutral by 2040. To achieve this goal, we are greening our processes in all areas. For example, we are focusing on maximizing the energy efficiency of our trains and buses.

Smart braking – saving energy

A lot of our trains generate power themselves – simply by braking. Because all modern electric trains at Deutsche Bahn are equipped with a brake energy recovery function. When they brake, their motors act as generators, converting the kinetic energy into electricity, which then flows back into the overhead line. This electricity can then be used again by other trains.

Overview of how brake energy recovery works

In 2023, this generated a total of around 1,440 gigawatt hours of electricity. This saves trains such as the ICE as much electricity in one year as around 350,000 four-person households consume annually.

Regenerative braking for a greener bus fleet

It's not just our trains that can "reuse" energy: our buses can too. A growing number of vehicles feature a generator, a device that can produce electricity when the vehicle brakes. This power is then stored and used at a later point in time: for example, to power all of the bus's lights, even when the vehicle is stationary and the engine is off. This helps us to reduce our bus fleet's fuel consumption and also cut CO2 emissions.

Many of these "mild hybrid" buses are already in use. With their innovative drive technology and modern EURO VI engines, they help to make road traffic a lot more environmentally friendly.

One of the new mild hybrid buses that joined our fleet.

Charge efficiently – recycle electricity

The batteries in our ICE trains have real power. During service disruptions or when turning around in a station, they keep the on-board power system supplied with energy when there is no power from the overhead line. To ensure that the batteries last as long as possible, we have developed an energy-efficient charging process in our "Anderslader" project.

The first step in the process is to connect the batteries to the power grid and completely discharge them, but much more slowly and energy efficiently than before. The discharged energy is thus fed back into the power grid and recycled. The battery is then fully recharged from the power grid. There are two benefits to this conservative approach: Firstly, the batteries remain operational for longer and secondly, the discharged energy is not lost, but is fed back into the public power grid for use elsewhere.

We already use this process for all our ICE 4 trains and are thus extending the service life of the batteries and avoiding time-consuming and cost-intensive repair work.

To ensure that the batteries for our ICE trains last as long as possible, we have developed an energy-efficient charging process. Before recharging, the batteries are completely discharged – the discharged energy is fed back into the power grid and can be used for other purposes.