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The metropolitan region of Stuttgart will become the first digital rail hub in Germany

The Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer is launching an initiative for the digitalisation of the railways. Together with Deutsche Bahn, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure will upgrade important transport arteries with new control and signalling equipment (ETCS) and digital signal boxes. Stuttgart is the first metropolitan region that will be equipped with the new technologies. In addition, the Federal Government will launch a model project in the region to upgrade trains with ETCS and automatic train operation (ATO).

Over the period to 2023, 570 million euros will be made available for the implementation. It is intended to continue the funding beyond this period.

The Federal Minister of Transport, Andreas Scheuer, said:

With our new digitalisation initiative, we will upgrade the most important transport arteries as well as the metropolitan region of Stuttgart with digital control and signalling equipment. The digital railway will be more reliable and punctual, will optimise capacity, increase energy efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions, lower operating costs and improve international rail transport. This will make Germany the global leader in the field of modern rail services.

As part of the so-called “starter package”, the following upgrades are to be delivered:

  • Metropolitan region of Stuttgart (Stuttgart railway hub and rapid transit trunk section by the end of 2025, then urban hinterland by 2030)
  • Cologne-Rhine/Main high-speed line by 2030
  • Scandinavian-Mediterranean Trans-European Corridor by 2030

In addition to digital train protection systems and signal boxes, further new technologies will be deployed: highly accurate real-time positioning, real-time traffic management system, environment sensing, 5G data communication, artificial intelligence for automated driving.

Ronald Pofalla, Member of the DB Management Board responsible for infrastructure:

The release of the starter package is much more than a budget decision – it means a revolution on the railways. For the first time, the Federal Government is not only funding infrastructure but also the digitalisation of trains. This will enable Germany to become international industry champion and serve as a role model for the railways of other countries.

Stuttgart metropolitan region / pilot project

Stuttgart will be the first region in Germany to be upgraded with modern digital train protection and signal box technology. The main elements of the “Stuttgart digital hub” pilot project are to be implemented, together with the Stuttgart 21 project, by 2025. Full implementation is to be completed by 2030. Consequently, the whole rapid transit network of Stuttgart, including the mixed-traffic railway routes, would be equipped with ETCS, digital signal boxes and automatic train operation, at least up to the terminal stations of the rapid transit lines.

Winfried Hermann, Transport Minister of Baden-Württemberg:

After long discussions, I am pleased that just in time we have managed to finally establish clarity concerning this joint project. The implementation of the “Digital Rail Germany” project is a key condition for achieving greater punctuality and capacity of the rail services throughout Germany. The region of Stuttgart is an ideal pioneer and pilot region for the digitalisation of German rail services.

Thomas S. Bopp, head of the “Stuttgart region” association:

As the authority responsible for the rapid transit railway system, we are happy that the railway hub of Stuttgart will be digitally equipped when “Stuttgart 21” is put into operation in 2025. This is a large step towards improved punctuality and the expansion of capacity on existing infrastructure.

As part of a pilot project, the Federal Government will also fund, on a pro rata basis, the upgrading of rolling stock with ETCS and, where required, ATO (automatic train operation).

The funding sum will be up to 200 million euros over the period to 2025. This will make it possible to equip the rolling stock with the required technologies, enabling its deployment on the new infrastructure. It is intended to further enhance capacity by making use of automatic train operation.