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DB presses ahead with train automation

DB is gathering experience through pilot projects

Subways and airport trams around the globe have already shown that fully automated rail service is possible without any manual control from a driver's cab. There are already examples of these automated services in Germany. Two lines of the Nuremberg subway have run fully automatically during scheduled operations for nearly ten years. Like other companies that have automated services, DB has to ask itself these key questions: Will automating our trains to a greater degree make them more punctual and reliable? What changes will ensue for existing professions and what new professions will emerge?

DB has launched three pilot projects and has already begun gathering experience. Employees in Technology Management at DB RegioNetz Verkehrs GmbH are working on further developing the Fassi 4.0 driver assistance system, which uses the latest digital technologies to automate train operations. Fassi 4.0 is being tested for the first time at the Erzgebirgsbahn in Saxony. 

DB Systel is working together with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and three other partners in the project Rail2X. As Rail2X communication of data exchange between trains, infrastructure such as railroad crossings and there waiting vehicles is called. For this purpose, the test field at the Erzgebirgsbahn is used and further developed.

DB Cargo has already successfully run the first demonstrator of an automated main-line locomotive on a test ring. Progress is also being made in piloting a fully automatic hump locomotive during shunting operations. Hump locomotives move freight cars over the hump at large classification yards.

Digitalization provides new opportunities for making the technology used to operate rail vehicles more reliable and for making the rail system even more competitive. Speed is a key factor in the competition for customers and market share. That is why DB has set out to become a technology leader, to gradually implement fully automated ICE, freight and S-Bahn trains at varying speeds and frequencies in Germany's highly complex hybrid network, and to be actively involved in this field of the future.

Pilot projects: fully automatic hump locomotive during shunting operations