Customers and quality in the digital age
Digitalization as a catalyst for better quality and more customer service
Deutsche Bahn has set out to make its core business, rail transport, more appealing and competitive over the long term through its multi-year Zukunft Bahn quality improvement program. Quality is the key to customers. That is why all activities at the rail business units are focused on continuously improving the customer experience with train travel. Digital technologies play a pivotal role. They are already used everywhere from services on board trains to services at stations. Digital technologies help better inform customers and can serve as a dynamic travel companion. Customers interact directly with many digital applications, such as apps like DB Navigator and the ICE Portal. But just as much happens in the background. A growing number of sensors, scanners and cameras collect data on railroad installations and trains. Algorithms enable the predictive maintenance of tracks, switches, and elevators and escalators at stations. In this way, processes that benefit customers indirectly – because trains are more punctual and railroad installations experience fewer malfunctions – are also being digitalized. DB increased its average annual on-time rate for long-distance services considerably, from 74.4% to 78.9%, between 2015 and 2016 alone. It intends to reach an 85% on-time rate by 2020. And it's aiming for no less than 95% for regional and local transport by 2020. This will raise the probability of our customers making their connecting trains to well over 90%. Digital technologies give DB major and diverse opportunities to achieve all of the objectives of Zukunft Bahn, including these. That is why DB will continue to step up digitalization in rail transport. For better quality and more customer service.
Together with the German government and Germany's rail industry, DB is pursuing digitalization in rail transport, as a driving force in the rail sector, in five specific areas for action where it aims to achieve the fastest and greatest possible benefit for customers. The areas for action align with the five-point digital rail strategy, which the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Deutsche Bahn AG and the German Railway Industry Association signed at a forum on the future of rail on June 22, 2016.
"We are forging a future alliance for the digital mobility revolution on rail," said German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt. "This will allow rail to become the mode of transport for the digital age – an additional venue for working and communicating besides the office and home."
Record investment in modernization and digitalization
Federal resources from the investment ramp-up have risen to a record level: more than EUR 5 billion annually by 2020. The funds will be used to press ahead with modernizing and digitalizing rail, in particular the European Train Control System (ETCS) and electronic interlockings. DB wants to make Germany the pioneer region in Europe in implementing ETCS. ETCS is already being used on the new high-speed line between Leipzig/Halle and Erfurt.
Free Wi-Fi access on more trains and at more stations
During its 2015 spectrum auction (Digital Dividend II), the German government required telecommunications companies to ensure all ICE lines nationwide could connect to mobile broadband internet. Free Wi-Fi internet access was enabled on all ICE trains, including in 2nd class, at the beginning of the year. In the future, DB will work with mobile network operators to ensure that passengers and other rail users can connect to mobile broadband anytime and anywhere. The first pilots are also being conducted in regional and local rail transport, in close cooperation with local authorities that contract for transport services. The goal is to install WLAN@DB – internet and services in Germany's largest mobile Wi-Fi network – an integrated network on trains, at stations and at DB Lounges for seamless internet access from start to finish.
Research and development
The German government is investing EUR 75 million in developing digital applications to increase capacity on rail. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) has launched a data portal, dubbed mCLOUD, which makes millions of pieces of mobility, geo and weather data available to developers and start-ups. Moreover, the government will invest EUR 100 million through its mFUND in the early development of digital innovations. The German government and DB are working hand in hand on open data. Developers can use open data from DB and data from the BMVI. Together, the two entities are providing access to an exceptionally attractive treasure trove of data. Deutsche Bahn is the first company to network its open data platform with the BMVI's mCloud.
Automation and networking
The German government is creating the legal framework for automatic and networked train operation. It is collaborating with DB and the rail industry to launch pilot projects in real operating conditions to consolidate innovative concepts and raise international visibility. Gradual automation will make the rail system even more flexible, energy efficient and viable for the future. The goal is to make Germany an international leader in technology.
Digital design and construction for rail infrastructure projects
Digital design and construction will be standard in all public transport infrastructure projects by 2020. The BMVI has developed a multi-phase plan and has begun pilot projects with Deutsche Bahn.
Building information modeling (BIM) has already been successfully used in projects such as construction on the Rastatt rail tunnel in Baden-Württemberg. BIM is setting new standards in construction in the rail sector. Together, we are pioneers in the construction site of the future based on the principle of building digitally first before starting with actual construction.