Green Transformation at Deutsche Bahn

With the green transformation we are making the Deutsche Bahn even greener and more sustainable.

Article: Green Transformation at Deutsche Bahn

Our Green Transformation is not just restricted to making our entire range of products and services more environmentally friendly: It also entails improving ecological awareness and sustainability at Deutsche Bahn and in the way we work. This is our way of acting responsible towards the environment and society.

Hotter summers, milder winters and unprecedented downpours are just some of the increasingly obvious signs of climate change, and they have become a recurring challenge for us at Deutsche Bahn, as well as for our customers. Now is the time to act so that we can leave the coming generations with a planet worth living on.

Deutsche Bahn is a company that has taken on responsibility. We are strengthening the rail system in Germany – for the climate, for people and for the economy. This goal is embedded in our Strong Rail corporate strategy, and we are putting it into practice via our Green Transformation. We know that there is only one way to achieve climate targets in Germany and Europe: By successfully transferring a massive volume of traffic to green rail services. As an international provider of mobility and logistics services, we are the key player in the shift to new forms of mobility.

A holistic approach for a healthy planet: DB's Green Transformation

We have developed the Green Transformation as a strategy to meet our ecological and social responsibilities. It will not only help us make our entire range of products and services more environmentally friendly, but it will also enhance ecological awareness and sustainability at Deutsche Bahn and in the way we work. Within this strategy, our ecological and social obligations go hand in hand. The reason is obvious: We can only reach Strong Rail's overarching goals if we focus on people and the environment equally when making decisions. We have been showcasing Green Transformation in our This is green. environmental brand, which encompasses over 150 different measures.

But we want to press ahead with our transformation, so we have identified five key areas for action: Climate protection, nature conservation, resource protection, noise reduction and social responsibility.

Climate protection

Everyone at Deutsche Bahn is dedicated to an ambitious climate protection goal: Being completely climate neutral by 2040.

We have established a series of stages designed to help us reach our overall objective. For example, by 2030 we want our CO2 emissions to be at least 50% lower than the 2006 figure, and we are also working to increase the portion of renewably generated electricity in our traction current mix to 80%. By 2038, all of this energy will come from renewable sources. We have already achieved this goal for our long-distance services: Customers on these trains have been able to enjoy journeys powered exclusively by renewable electricity since 2018.

Further information about climate protection at Deutsche Bahn is available at gruen.deutschebahn.com/en/strategy/climate_protection

Nature conservation

We should not take a flourishing countryside, healthy woodlands and species-rich habitats for granted. Over the past few years, there has been a serious decline in the variety of plants and animals in the world around us. Insect numbers are plummeting and rising temperatures are putting pressure on our forests and grasslands. This in turn robs wildlife of their habitats and undermines the entire ecosystem.    

As a company, Deutsche Bahn is committed to counteracting these developments. We know that more rail traffic means our infrastructure also has to grow, and it is not always possible to achieve this without consequences for the environment. It is precisely this knowledge that makes us so aware of our duty. 

Whenever we have to disturb the environment to create new rail facilities, we also create new habitats. We temporarily relocate animals and plants so they are not harmed by our construction projects. Alternatively, we create a new permanent home for them somewhere else. Goats, wild horses and water buffalo help us by grazing selected sites so that rare plants and animals can thrive there. Since 2010, we have planned a total of around 46,000 separate conservation measures or put them into action.

Further information about nature conversation at Deutsche Bahn is available at gruen.deutschebahn.com/en/strategy/nature_conservation

Resource protection

We also see environmental protection as a call for us to use our resources carefully. That is why we have set ourselves an ambitious target for protecting resources: We intend to implement a full circular economy by 2040.

To achieve this goal, we are taking a holistic approach to resource protection and using several instruments. In the coming years, we will significantly increase the recycled content of the materials we use. For example, we will use almost twice as much recycled rail steel in 2030 as in 2019, thus increasing the recycled content from 25% to around 45%. In the same period, we intend to triple the percentage of recycled track ballast we use from 13.3% to 40%. And for concrete ties, we will use five times as much recycled material, increasing the percentage from 5.7% in 2019 to about 30% in 2030. At the same time, we will continue to keep our recycling rate at a high level of at least 95%.

By ensuring careful use of resources throughout the Group, we are joining forces to achieve our goal of having a full circular economy by 2040. That is why we are making resource protection visible for everyone with numerous measures that go beyond recycled content and recycling levels. We will, for example, only purchase vehicles that have been manufactured in a resource-saving manner, expand our sustainable food service portfolio in our on-bord-bistros and restaurants and increase the sustainability of our BahnBonus program.

Further information about protecting resources at Deutsche Bahn is available at gruen.deutschebahn.com/en/strategy/resource_protection

Noise reduction

People are at the center of our noise mitigation activities. Strong Rail means more trains, but this will only work if the people who live beside railway lines are willing to accept higher rail traffic.

We have responded to this fact by working with the German government to set out noise control targets for 2030/2050. Our aim for 2030 is to reduce exposure to noise for over 800,000 trackside residents. This figure represents over half the total number of people currently living near our rail routes. By 2050, we will have improved the situation for everyone who is currently exposed to railroad noise in this way.

Our 2030/2050 noise control targets are based on the success of our 2020 noise mitigation project. By the end of 2020, we installed quiet braking technology in all DB Cargo freight cars and completed noise control measures on 2,000 kilometers of rail lines that were particularly affected. Together, these two changes cut rail noise by half compared to 2000's levels.

Further information about noise reduction at Deutsche Bahn is available at gruen.deutschebahn.com/en/strategy/noise_reduction

Social responsibility

By adopting our new Strong Rail corporate strategy, we are making a clear commitment to our social responsibility and our role in society. This commitment takes the form of ensuring ethical, responsible conduct toward all people, combined with technological progress and digitalization, along our value chain and beyond. Our awareness does not just extend to our employees but also encompasses every stage in our sustainable value creation chain.

As one of the world's leading mobility and logistics companies and the employer of more than 300,000 people, Deutsche Bahn assumes responsibility for its actions in Germany just as we do in every other market where we operate. Fair business practices, supply chain transparency, human rights and digital responsibility are just some of the topics that we actively address throughout the Group.

One key component of Strong Rail is our HR strategy, which is based on the principle of "with people and for people." This strategy outlines four key areas for action that we will use to get the DB Group ready for the future: Forward-looking HR planning, innovative recruiting, a holistic approach to management, qualifications and transformation, plus actively shaping future work practices.

Further information about social responsibility at Deutsche Bahn is available at gruen.deutschebahn.com/en/strategy/social_responsibility