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Train formation depots lead the way for freight wagons

DB Cargo AG's freight traffic pulses through train formation depots. Our employees there put your freight on a train heading in the right direction.

Before DB Cargo AG's freight trains can travel to their destinations, the individual wagons or wagon groups need to be assembled into block trains. This process takes place in special shunting depots.


There are roughly 170 of these depots in Germany. Many of them have a network of several kilometres of sidings. Often located close to towns at the edge of economic centres, they ensure that tens of thousands of freight wagons are sorted into the correct trains every day. DB Cargo AG has rented the infrastructure.


In the evening and night-time hours, there is intense activity at the shunting depots, with DB Cargo AG's employees working together with their colleagues from the infrastructure companies. The process is always the same in principle:

The train arrives at the station and firstly drives into an entry group siding. The shunter is waiting there. 

The shunter separates the wagons or wagon groups from one another using a cut list containing all relevant information about a train.

The wagons roll to the end of the queue of vehicles already waiting behind an artificial hump in the directional siding. The wagons are reconnected there and pulled into the exit group by more shunting engines. When the wagon technician has inspected the newly assembled train, the train can leave the yard.

Then the hump locomotive is used to push the wagons over the hump. From there, the wagons continue travelling to the siding assigned to the directional group. A computer not only steers the points into the destination track for each individual wagon, but it also operates the brakes and accelerators in the sidings so that the wagons come to a safe standstill in the right place. The computer also keeps readjusting the hump locomotive's engine so that it maintains an optimum speed.