The future of mobility is rail

Revolution in the rail system – en route to a digital future

What the steam engine was to the industrial revolution, digitalisation is to Industry 4.0

At Digitale Schiene Deutschland (that is: Digital Rail for Germany), we are seizing this opportunity and bringing future technologies to the railway system. Artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous driving will become the new normal on the rails.

We are laying the foundation for this with a complete modernisation and digitalisation of the infrastructure. The control and safety technology will be renewed by 2035, with the rollout of the European Train Control System (ETCS), digital interlocking systems (DSTW: Digitale Stellwerke) and the integrated control and operating system (iLBS: integrierte Leit- und Bediensystem). This was kicked off in 2020 with the so-called ‘starter package’.

In the second stage of Digitale Schiene, the digital railway system reveals its full potential. Trains that are fully automated and runin closer succession  that are controlled intelligently and automatically in real time, and that recognise their surroundings and position using sensors – this is what the future of the railway looks like. For this, a system architecture will detail the tasks of individual components of the railway system, and how they should work together. On this foundation, numerous digital technologies will then be tested and further developed for use in the system.

Why we do what we do

Digitalisation, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are key to a higher capacity and optimal utilisation of the rail network. Our goal is clear: more attractive rail transport with more trains, of higher quality. And all without adding a single metre of new track.

In this way, we aim to reach a transport turning point: twice as many passengers on the railways and increased freight traffic by 2030. Thus, Digitale Schiene benefits both our customers and the climate. The railway will once again become a high-tech industry, with attractive jobs and innovation strength in Germany and beyond.

Faster, greener, smoother: thanks to Digitale Schiene Deutschland

The digital railway creates capacity

With Digitale Schiene Deutschland, more trains are able to operate without the need for new tracks. The cutting-edge technology of a digital railway system will increase the rail network’s capacity by up to 35% – through standardised digital control and safety technology (DLST) based on the European Train Control System (ETCS) and digital interlocking systems (DSTW: Digitale Stellwerke), combined with a new integrated control and operating system.

Reliability rises

More people and goods will reach their destinations more reliably in the future. This is made possible by standardised technical components and less ‘hardware’ that can potentially fail – for example, around 160,000 signals that will no longer be needed after the introduction of ETCS and DSTW. Remote diagnostic systems and largely automated fault handling also ensure smoother operations. The result: more reliable freight transport, more punctual passenger trains, more satisfied customers.

More efficient railway operations

Better use of resources, the ‘virtualisation’ of failure-prone hardware and optimised control of all processes make rail traffic more efficient – and reduce infrastructure maintenance. In addition, standardised, uniform technology eases the movement of goods throughout Europe.

Digitale Schiene as a driver of innovation

Digitale Schiene will bring a huge technology boost for the entire German rail industry, and beyond the country's borders. With innovative, exportable systems, Germany can open up new markets and further establish itself as a technology leader. In addition, employees benefit from digital technologies: diverse occupational fields are created, work processes are facilitated and future-oriented skills are promoted.

A good environmental balance

The train is already the most environmentally friendly means of transport available today. But it can be improved. Digitale Schiene creates the conditions for more passengers and goods on existing tracks, and less traffic on the roads. The climate also benefits from a higher capacity. New organisation of rail operations and optimal use of existing resources reduce energy requirements and harmful CO₂ emissions. According to estimates, more than ten million tonnes of CO₂ per year can be saved by the railways in 2030. Digitale Schiene Deutschland alone accounts for 1.6 million tonnes of this.