FRMCS/5G test track “Digital Rail Testbed” in Germany’s Ore Mountains

Based on 5G, Digitale Schiene Deutschland is testing the highly automated rail transport of the future and the introduction of innovative technologies.

The new age of digital signalling technology has begun in the Digital Rail Testbed in Germany’s Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge). In the town of Annaberg-Buchholz, switches  and signals for the railway are already set digitally – and reliably. This has been complemented with the construction of a 5G test network along the Markersbach-Schlettau section of the line. With high data rates and improved network quality, the modern mobile radio standard 5G is considered to be the basic technology of the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) – the successor to today's GSM-R radio system for train communications. 5G will enable data exchange between trains and infrastructure in real time and thus create the basis for a digital and increasingly automated railway system. In the 5G test field, innovative technologies are being tested for this purpose, which will lead to more capacity, reliability and efficiency in the rail network.

Our goal is to fully exploit the potential and full performance of the new technology in the coming years, so we can start a nationwide rollout with mature technology after the test phase.

5G test track “Digitales Testfeld Bahn” in the Ore Mountains

Construction of a research environment with eight 5G radio masts and additional field and laboratory equipment

The Federal Government is supporting the construction of a research platform and accompanying  the procurements with up to €15 million. This will enable DigitalRail for Germany Deutschland to achieve the following:

  • Construction of 5G radio masts along the route, supplying media and other necessary field elements
  • Modernisation and expansion of existing buildings and their equipment into a laboratory centre
  • Acquisition and conversion of test trains
Deutsche Bahn opens 5G test track

With the opening of the test track, Deutsche Bahn is reaching the next milestone in the digital railway system. Here, it is testing innovative technologies for practical use in operations, including digital control and safety technology and the new 5G-based FRMCS rail radio standard.

Why the Ore Mountains is optimal for a digital test field

There is currently no regular train service on the Digital Rail Test Field route – an advantage for conducting extensive research. The section between Annaberg-Buchholz and Schwarzenberg offers enough topographical and meteorological variety to test vehicles and infrastructure operations under different conditions.

We want to convince people further, and more strongly, of the benefits of the railway. This can only be done with more digitalisation – both on the train and the track. In the Ore Mountains we want to research and test these technologies: from digital signalling  technology to measures for better reception.


Read more about the developed FRMCS System Design for the Digital Railway System.

Click here for the press release of the Free State of Saxony.