Digital Revolution in Germany’s Rail Network: First Digital Interlocking in Europe

Deutsche Bahn AG has just inaugurated digital interlockings for trains.

08 March 2018 Thursday, 12:31
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Deutsche Bahn AG has just inaugurated digital interlockings for trains. Europe’s first digital interlocking (DSTW) has begun operation in Annaberg-Buchholz, on the Erzgebirgsbahn in southeastern Germany, ushering in a revolution for rail control and safety systems. Characteristic for the new interlocking architecture is that the dispatcher’s switching commands are transmitted to the points, signals and track contacts via network technology. As a result, previously required individual connections to the individual interlocking elements partly via kilometer-long cable bundles have been eliminated. Signals and points can now be controlled at much greater distances with the DSTW network contacts via a data line.

​”Annaberg-Buchholz stands for one of the biggest technology projects in the history of Deutsche Bahn,” emphasizes Klaus Müller, CTO of DB Netz AG. “Intelligent communication networks and their associated standardized and modularized technology are setting the trend for the coming years. They enable us to operate rail transport more economically, while saving resources and ensuring greater efficiency for our customers. The new interlocking technology is thus a milestone in the digitalization of rail infrastructure and will be the basis for higher capacity and improved punctuality in rail transport.”

“The solution used in Annaberg-Buchholz is an important step toward interlockings in the cloud,” relates Michael Peter, CEO of the Mobility Division at Siemens. “For the first time ever, an interlocking transmits its IP-based commands to the system’s field elements such as points and signals. This allows completely new flexibility in planning, makes possible the use of intelligent field elements, and will generate positive cost effects over the longer term. And all this is achieved, of course, while meeting the strictest safety standards for operations.”

The DSTW system in Annaberg-Buchholz marks the beginning of a country-wide implementation of the new and innovative interlocking generation. The technology can be used for operations on main lines with heavy traffic and major hub railway stations as well as for simpler applications in rural areas.

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