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DB and air pollution control

Fewer pollutants mean clean air

Between 2010 and 2020 we want to reduce the particle emissions of our trains, buses, trucks and cars by 55 percent.

Deutsche Bahn has made significant progress by reducing its pollutants of its trains: One key reason  for this progress is the increasing electrification of the rail network. Electric trains do not directly generate air-pollutant emissions; any emissions that occur are created when traction current is generated, and new filters are helping to reduce these emissions as well. 

Our target: Halve emissions from diesel engines

DB is also focusing on reducing emissions caused by vehicles that run on diesel – both for passenger and freight rail transport and for its bus, truck and car fleet. Between 2010 and 2020 we want to reduce the particle emissions of our trains, buses, trucks and cars in Germany by 55 percent . Until 2016 we already have reduced our emissions by 42.2 percent.


Modern diesel locomotives

Over the past few years, DB has outfitted many of its older DMUs and diesel locomotives with modern engines and has purchased a large number of new locomotives. DB Schenker Rail, for example, has been replacing its old vehicles with state-of-the-art new ones at an amazing pace since 2011. One of these Gravita locomotives emits up to 40 percent less nitrogen oxide than its predecessors. DB Schenker has also had its locomotives outfitted with soot particulate filters, which remove up to 97 percent of soot particulate. DB has equipped its older DMUs and diesel locomotives with modern engines in recent years, reducing exhaust emissions in the entire fleet.

Hybrid technology is another promising technology that further reduces emissions from diesel transport and DB AG is a pioneer in this field as well. Mitteldeutsche Eisenbahngesellschaft, a DB Schenker Rail company, has been using four hybrid switching locomotives since 2012 and is the first company in Europe to do so.

Modern diesel-electric trains

In addition, modern locomotives with diesel-electric drive system provide for fewer pollutants.

What makes these locomotives special is that four engines run at the same time and in case of a low power demand, individual engines can be completely switched off. Thereby the use of energy and emissions can be reduced significantly. Furthermore, the engines are equipped with diesel particulate filters and SCR catalysts. Every single engine is certified according to Stage IIIB emission standards. The first 22 TRAXX trains are already running for DB Regio. Compared to the previous models the particulate emissions are reduced by 99.9 percent. Another seven environmental TRAXX trains running for the car-train-shuttle to Sylt. Until now, two locomotives have been needed for that train, that can now be substituted by one TRAXX. 

A second approach to reduce air-pollutant emissions for electric traction is to increase the percentage of renewable energy sources in the traction current mix, something that DB has done continuously over the past few years. Renewables accounted for 42 percent at the end of 2016.

Alternative power sources are increasingly in use

In the Czech Republic, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Slovakia and the UK more than 280 gas fuelled buses belong to DB Arriva’s fleet. They are powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or biogas. As of 2016, DB Arriva also operates around 530 hybrid buses throughout Europe. 

In the Netherlands DB Arriva also operates greenhouse gas-free electric trains, with electricity supplied from wind power for the Dutch railways, making train operations carbon neutral.

Electric buses in Milton Keynes

From January 2014, DB Arriva started operating eight battery-electric buses in Milton Keynes in the UK - a ground-breaking trial. The buses will run for five years in a monitored program, which assesses their technical and commercial viability. The buses will take over a route that even diesel buses find demanding: running 17 hours a day, seven days a week, with each bus covering over 56,000 miles per year. Instead of plugging into a main power source, these buses will recharge their batteries wirelessly during the day. Thus, the  particulates and noxious emissions at Milton Keynes are reduced by about five tons each year and approximately 270 tons of CO2 are saved per year.