The digitalisation of German railways


Berlin on a Wednesday afternoon at BMVI, the German Ministry of Transport and digital Infrastructure. Alexander Dobrindt (German Minister for Transport), Rüdiger Grube (CEO of Deutsche Bahn AG) and Volker Schenk (CEO of German Railway Association) sign the co-joint strategy to digitise the railways in Germany.

Alexander Dobrindt is sharing the following thoughts in his speech: “The BMVI is building a cooperative approach towards a future, where mobility solutions on the German railway system are digital and competitive. Trains are going to be the transport mode of choice in the digital age. In trains we can travel, work, sleep and communicate in a safe and easy way.”

dobrindt_klRüdiger Grube, the CEO of Deutsche Bahn AG, adds: “At DB we think of digital technologies and changing customer needs as the engine of evolution. To these changing needs, we answer with our digital strategy DB 4.0 tackling three main areas. Firstly we are improving the interface to the customer to ensure journey that is smooth, convenient, flexible and tailored to personal needs. Secondly, DB AG is using analytical data to strengthen its internal processes. Thirdly we are working on the intelligent application of novel, data-based business models. When it comes to mobility and logistics, trains are an innovative and sustainable option. The new strategy for digitisation of railways is building the right foundation to grow the European railways again.”

Let’s look at the details of the strategy and highly five main points:

  1. Investments in modernization and digitisation of railway network – Until 2020 more than 5 billion € per annum will be invested into the infrastructure. If realised, that will be record level investments to modernise and digitise the German railways. Investments will be focused especially on signalling solutions like ETCS and electronic switch points.
  2. Free WIFI access in high-speed trains and train stations – Together will the telecommunication conglomerates, the BMVI is going to set up WIFI and mobile broadband on all ICE high-speed train corridors. Free access to WIFI will be available in the 2nd class of ICEs.
  3. Investments in research and development – The BMVI is investing 75 million € into novel applications which help to optimise and increase the train capacity in the network. The mCLOUD is an open data portal, on which developers are now granted access to mobility, geo and weather data. Another 100 million € are going to be used to set up the mFUND, which will accelerate the development of early phase start-ups.
  4. Automation and seamless network integration – New legislation is going to be passed to set the legal framework for automated and driverless train operation. First pilot projects to demonstrate the technical feasibility in the real railway environment is going to be launched in 2017. The goal of the BMVI is to position Germany as the global technology leader and better integrate its railway network and sustainable for the future.
  5. Digitally enhanced planning and building of infrastructure projects – When it comes to large infrastructure projects, digitally enhanced planning and building will be a standard until 2020. Transport minister Alexander Dobrindt has drafted a five-step action plan together with Deutsche Bahn AG in order to reduce costs, scope creep and timeline delays when constructing new railway lines, terminals tunnels and bridges.

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