© DB AG / Faruk Hosseini

Into the future with Digital Rail

We are digitalizing our entire network and thereby shifting more traffic to Strong Rail. But how do you digitalize a whole rail network? We are laying the foundations by modernizing and digitalizing the infrastructure. We will be putting in place the next generation of control-command and signaling systems: by rolling out the European Train Control System (ETCS) nationwide, installing digital signaling technology and using an integrated command and control system. These technologies will enable us, for example, to use digital remote diagnostics to remedy disruptions more efficiently and reduce our servicing of the infrastructure. As a result, our trains will be more punctual and reliable. 

The full potential of the digital rail system will be unleashed with the second stage of Digital Rail. In the future, trains will be able to run fully automatically and at shorter intervals and be controlled intelligently by automated systems in real time. Smart sensors will enable them to recognize their surroundings and their position. Rail lines will be more efficient, increasing the capacity of the existing network by up to 35%. That means more travelers and freight traffic by rail. All of this will help us save emissions and thus protect the environment. 

Digital signal systems under construction

In Annaberg-Buchholz in the state of Saxony the switches and signals on a regional line have been controlled digitally since 2018. The second digital signaling facility went into operation for long distance traffic in Rostock-Warnemünde since October 2019.

These are the first two of 280 digital signaling systems intended to control rail transport across Germany's over 33,000-kilometer network. These high-tech signaling facilities are gradually replacing around 2,500 signaling systems of different types from previous decades.

The next locations to use digital signaling facilities will be Meitingen-Mertingen in Bavaria, the Harz-Weser network in Lower Saxony and the Koblenz-Trier line in Rhineland-Palatinate.