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Digital worlds

Mobility in the digital world

From the ICE Portal to platooning to digital construction

Our smartphones are with us everywhere we go and they are our top choice for using the internet on the go. The red and white logo featuring an ICE train lights up on millions of displays. It belongs to DB Navigator, which offers all services relating to train travel. Passengers use DB Navigator to retrieve some four million pieces of travel information each day, buy online tickets and take advantage of many additional services during travel.  In the first six months of 2017, more than 6.7 million mobile phone tickets were sold. This corresponds to an average of 37,000 bookings per day - an increase of around 54 per cent compared to the previous year. But DB Navigator is just one small page in Deutsche Bahn's digital portfolio. From day one, DB has been involved in major cutting-edge fields – like voice-activated travel information on Amazon Echo, the first platooning tests using self-driving trucks and digital construction – and is always close to customers and their ever more rapidly changing needs.

Here are a few examples from DB's wide range of digital services:

DB has equipped its entire ICE fleet with a new, powerful Wi-Fi system. The system uses the latest generation of repeaters, which strengthen incoming signals, so that all wireless networks along routes can be used. The control system accesses the fastest networks available (LTE or 3G) and can bundle capacity from multiple network operators. Thanks to this system, it's no problem for up to 800 passengers on one ICE to go online at once while their train is traveling from one network to the next at speeds of up to 300 km/h. Wireless internet is available at no charge to passengers in 1st class and in 2nd class. The internet connection is slightly faster in 1st class, and passengers in 2nd class have a 200 megabyte (MB) data limit per device per day. Passengers can easily send and receive e-mails with attachments, chat and browse online with this volume, even on a journey lasting several hours. The speed slows once a device reaches the 200 MB limit, but is still well above 28 kilobits per second. DB invested some EUR 100 million in all in the new Wi-Fi service on ICE trains. By the end of 2018 an additional EUR 80 million will be invested to gradually update telephone technology on board ICE trains and select 1st class cars in the IC fleet to the state of the art. Passengers will benefit from much better reception, not only when placing and receiving calls, but also when using the internet on mobile networks.

Deutsche Bahn also makes free wireless internet available to passengers and visitors in 127 stations throughout Germany and at DB Lounges. 

The ICE-Portal opens automatically when passengers connect to Wi-Fi on board. It provides all important information about the train and route as well as extensive infotainment. In addition to train information, such as the train's expected arrival time, connecting trains, the train's GPS position and travel alternatives, the ICE Portal also provides German TV news and tips as well as products and services relating to the best travel destinations. The on-board program has different information sections and an electronic kiosk with various newspapers, audiobooks and radio dramas. Movies and TV series will be added to the portal beginning in Spring 2017 as part of a long-term strategic partnership with maxdome, a German video-on-demand provider.

The Qixxit mobility platform is a mobile impartial travel agent that maps out the entire travel chain across providers and all modes of transport, from airplane and train to bus and rental car. Filters allow you to select the best sequence of options for your requirements. With the benefit of real-time journey data from DB and comprehensive road traffic information, Qixxit is able to respond at short notice to problems and find efficient alternative connections. Qixxit originated as a project at the DB Group and became an independent company at the end of 2016 under the umbrella of DB Digital Ventures, giving it greater freedom. The goal is to develop a multimodal platform for all routes from A to B.

DB Schenker treibt die digitale Transformation seines Geschäftsmodells voran und investiert 25 Millionen US-Dollar in die Online-Plattform uShip für Speditions- und Transportdienstleistungen. „Der Ausbau unserer erfolgreichen Kooperation wird unser Transport-Management schneller, einfacher und effizienter machen und uns helfen, als Marktführer im europäischen Landverkehr noch größere Frachtvolumen zu bewältigen. Außerdem wollen wir so in hohem Tempo neue Wachstumschancen abseits unserer traditionellen Geschäftsmodelle entwickeln und ergreifen“, sagte Jochen Thewes, CEO der Schenker AG.

DB Schenker Carry Pick is an automated storage and order picking system that brings goods to employees instead of the other way around. It was developed by Swiss company Swisslog and introduced at DB Schenker. The system consists of mobile racks, order picking and transport robots.

The DB Schenker smartbox family helps improve transport and warehouse processes and offers increased security by transmitting information, which can then be recorded and evaluated. Depending on the product, data can be recorded about impacts on containers or packages and can be viewed either online in real time during transport or via USB connection after the transport is complete. Results are illustrated clearly using customized reports and statistics.

At DB, digital construction is called building information modeling (BIM). The method is used to model entire rail lines, including all bridges, tunnels, stations and technical equipment, from idea to operation and maintenance. It is based on transparency, trust, openness and cooperation from all project partners, from project idea to commissioning and beyond. During the design and construction phase, BIM combines 3D design with cost and deadline information. Construction happens digitally first, then in real life. This method identifies conflicts in the construction workflow long before work begins at the construction site. It makes projects easier for members of the public to understand and points out cost and deadline risks to the project manager before they occur. As Europe's largest infrastructure operator, Deutsche Bahn is promoting digital construction because it improves quality, helps better manage cost and deadlines, and ultimately reduces the workload for design, construction, operations and maintenance.

In the future, fiber optic sensing will make sure that DB has its ear to the ground, or more specifically the tracks. This new technology uses light reflection to make soundwaves visible. Fiber optic cables along tracks transmit information about noise along the route almost at the speed of light. Once this information is analyzed, it can indicate the condition of the track system and trains.

Infografik: Fiber Optic Sensing

DB Schenker and MAN work together on the development of networked truck columns for use in logistics. For the first time, DB Schenker truck columns are being tested by professional drivers for several months in real road traffic. DB Schenker and MAN platoons will be deployed on the "Digital Testfield Autobahn" on the A 9 between the DB Schenker branches in Munich and Nuremberg in the test phase that will begin in the spring of 2018.

Platooning is a vehicle system for road traffic, where at least two trucks on the motorway can drive one after the other by means of technical systems. The leading vehicle gives speed and direction. The distance between the individual trucks is about ten meters. The goal is to achieve a fuel savings of up to ten percent for the entire platoon and to reduce CO2 emissions by means of the wind shadows.