Güterzug unterwegs auf der Schiene, in grüner Landschaft.

Innovations at DB Cargo

In favor of our climate and the environment.


As a leading global logistics services provider for rail freight in Germany and Europe, DB Cargo has a key role for the development, testing and market introduction of various innovations for rail freight transport. 

Innovations help to reduce COand noise emissions and thereby meeting the objectives for the protection of climate and environment.

Additionally, innovations help increase the competitiveness of rail freight transport versus road transport. 

As a result, this creates benefits for the environment, the society and for the rail freight sector. 

Innovations require considerable investments and include large economical and technical risks. To encourage project deployment, under specific conditions funding is granted to undertakings in the sector by transport policy institutions.

Under the EU-Funding Program Connecting Europe Facility – Transport, the European Commission has approved the following projects submitted by DB Cargo for funding.

Güterzug unterwegs auf der Schiene, in grüner Landschaft.

40-CONTECH - Investing in a just in time intermodal logistics concept with an innovative 40ft open top curtain side container to develop sustainable, interoperable and safe rail services through the Eurotunnel along the TEN-T core network corridors (Action 2014-DE-TA-0296-W) completed by 31 December 2017

This Action referred to the innovative 'just-in-time' (JIT) intermodal logistics concept, by which the beneficiary, DB Cargo shifted traffic from road to rail on several Core Network Corridors and reduces 11,800 tons of COemissions per year. The Action leads to a high-quality rail JIT concept between Germany and the UK.

The Action's main focus was the design of and investment in a new 40-foot open top curtain side container to improve the loading and unloading process and increase the utilisation of the maximum allowed weight for each wagon. The Action invested in 186 innovative 40-foot containers and 134 wagons that are compliant with the Eurotunnel safety specifications. It also included the investment in ‘track and trace’ technology with GPS telematics for near real time monitoring of freight flows.

MEDAS 3.0 - Greening the automotive supply chain with trusted collaborative networks to bundle cargo and operate a sustainable ‘just in time’ Mediterranean rail shuttle service (Action 2014-DE-TA-0326-W) completed by 31 December 2016

The Action involved the greening of the automotive supply chain with trusted collaborative networks by bundling cargo and operating a sustainable ‘just in time' rail shuttle service on part of the Core Network Corridors. 

The applicant DB Schenker Rail Automotive (DBSRA) acted as a Lead Logistic Provider (LLP), offered a door-to door service and managed the freight bundling service between several automotive clients.

DBSRA invested in bundling the cargo of automotive clients, while maintaining required just in time delivery, and at the end of the project ran 13 freight transport round trips by train per week. DBSRA also invested in vendor inventory ‘track & trace' IT tools and in single wagon equipment with a dual gauge change functionality. 

The Action increased the environmental sustainability of the automotive supply chain and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17,500 tons of COper year.

LL RETROFIT 16000 - Retrofitting existing rolling stock with composite brake blocks (LL) to reduce rail freight noise in densely populated areas in Europe (Action 2014-DE-TA-0389-W) completed by 31 December 2016

The Action was part of the global project of DB Cargo to retrofit freight wagons with low-noise low-friction brake blocks that are running along densely populated TEN-T Core Network Corridors in Germany.

The Action covered the retrofit of 23,683 freight wagons with ‘silent' LL brake blocks, which have been approved by the European Railway Agency. The Action foresaw the retrofitting of mainly wagons with four axles with either 16 or 32 LL brake block units per wagon.

This Action has been completed fully and thus contributed to advancing the global project and to reducing the traffic noise caused by rail freight operations in Germany.

EPS-TAF - Investing in a European Production System (EPS), which is a Telematics Application for Freight (TAF) that is compliant with TSI, in order to ensure a seamless and interoperable European rail freight transport system (Action 2014-DE-TM-0397-W) completed by 31 December 2020

DB Cargo developed and roll out a digital communication infrastructure compliant with the EU's TAF TSI Regulation within five EU Member States (Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy and Poland) to support interoperable European cross-border rail freight transport services.

The system is called European Production fulfillment System (EPS) and aims at connecting all the rail stakeholders of these countries, enabling the digital planning, scheduling, monitoring and execution of international rail freight transport services.

Activities within the Action included studies, testing, training, roll-out and dissemination activities for the EPS. Completion of the Action could serve to support seamless and interoperable cross-border rail freight transport and improved rail freight logistics services on the TEN-T network.

RIO Railway Infrastructure Optimisation - Deployment of an innovative and technological rail infrastructure-vehicle interface system to ensure a low-carbon and energy-efficient freight transport system along the TEN-T Core Network Corridors (Action 2014-DE-TM-0414-S) completed by 31 December 2016

The RIO Action was a study with an integrated pilot project, where an interface system aiming at improving energy efficiency on rail freight operations was tested. 

RIO combined a data infrastructure system and panel PC to advise the vehicle driver about how to carry out energy-efficient operations. The data system gathered rail infrastructure details, such as topography and freight train path utilisation planning continuously. This data was transmitted via the RIO interface to the locomotive vehicle in real time to optimise rail freight operations. 

The system was used for passenger transport but not yet on freight transport. Large investments were needed to adapt the current RIO passenger system to the rail freight sector. 

RIO was tested on four main corridors during this Action and led to a reduction of COand energy use by between 4% and 13%.

HYBRID-INFRA-RAIL - Deployment of hybrid systems for rail infrastructure to reduce energy consumption by 30% (Action 2016-DE-TM-0002-S) completed by 31 December 2021

The Action's main objective was to conduct a deployment study with two hybrid units and to improve the rail infrastructure to be able to use the hybrid systems at a large scale. Its specific objective was to adapt the existing hybrid technologies to the needs of the rail sector and to deploy hybrid infrastructure systems, encompassing electrical battery power and diesel for rail infrastructure.

The Action covered real life trials in operational conditions, preparation of design for the necessary battery charging distribution network along the TEN-T network to enable and support the market uptake as well as a business plan containing the market uptake strategy. Two existing diesel locomotives type BR294 were equipped with electromechanical hybrid traction technologies. For these prototypes the energy efficiency and consumption were measured and compared during the real-life trials for the situation with and without the hybrid components.

'LL-RETROFIT-EU' of existing freight wagons to reduce rail freight noise along the nine TEN-T core network corridors (Action 2016-DE-TA-0003-W) completed by 31 December 2019

The Action reduced rail freight noise by retrofitting 25,486 rail freight wagons (owned by DB Cargo and its affiliated entities) that are running along the nine Core Network Corridors with silent brake blocks. 

It was part of a global project of DB Cargo to replace the cast iron brake blocks of the e
xisting wagons by "silent" LL brake blocks made of composite materials which enable that the wheel surface remains smooth.
The Action contributed to a noise reduction of up to ten decibels and to increased intermodal competitiveness of the rail transport compared to road transport.

DB TAF-TSI: Investing in digital communication infrastructure based on Telematics Application for Freight (Action 2017-DE-TM-0009-W) planned to be completed by 31 December 2024

The Action addresses the implementation of the requirements on rail interoperability for freight by DB Cargo, in adherence to EU rules on the technical specification for interoperability relating to the telematics applications for freight subsystem of the rail system in the European Union (the so-called TAF-TSI Regulation).

In particular, to support interoperable European cross border rail freight transport services and to enhance the competitiveness of the rail freight transport sector, DB Cargo will roll-out a digital communication infrastructure across Europe (operations in 16 EU countries along the nine corridors of the TEN-T Core Network). This will be done in cooperation with the existing international intermediates, such as RailData and RailNetEurope. While DB Cargo is already using some standard digital communication messages, it aims becoming fully compliant with the TAF-TSI Regulation. 

As a result, DB Cargo will standardize communication messages for the electronic exchange of data in affected applications, as stipulated in the data catalogue of the said Regulation.

Cross-border TAF-TSI investment for equipping freight wagons with TSI compliant sensors and digital communication tools (Action 2018-DE-TM-0005-W) completed by 31 December 2021

The Action seeked to improve connectivity in the rail freight sector by enhancing digital communication of rail freight subsystems along nine core networks. DB Cargo invested in TSI compliant wagon intelligence to collect and exchange real-time data with several stakeholders based on EU standards. This "intelligent wagon infrastructure" includes wagon loading detection, wagon disposition optimisation and an automated breaking test. Data collected can be shared with stakeholders and enable to forecast cross-border ETAs. This optimises the organisation and composition of the wagons and helps to achieve seamless cross-border rail freight transportation.

DB-RETROFIT-EU: Reducing rail freight noise by retrofitting existing freight wagons with composite brake blocks (Action 2019-DE-TA-0001-W) planned to be completed by 31 December 2024

The Action aims at contributing to EU objectives in terms of reducing rail freight noise by retrofitting wagons’ braking system with composite brake blocks.

By the end of 2023, the Action will retrofit with composite brake blocks 10,720 freight wagons (almost entirely S-type). The applicant, DB Cargo, has already retrofitted approx. 50,000 freight wagons over the past years. The retrofitted wagons will circulate through all nine TEN-T Core Network Corridors, and have a significant impact on environment protection, in particular on rail freight noise reduction across Europe.

Investing in the ETCS on-board deployment for interoperable freight traffic along the Scan-Med Corridor (Action 2019-DE-TM-0084-W) planned to be completed by 31 December 2024

This project will ensure the interoperability of cross-border freight traffic along the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor through the latest European Train Control System technology. Work will include the development of prototypes for two locomotive classes used on cross-border connections between Germany and Denmark, as well as Denmark and Sweden.

Solving priority 1 of the Log Book issue and implementing the Unified Braking Scheme (UBS) as a pilot project along the Rhine-Alpine Corridor with the aim of transferring knowledge gained across the TEN-T rail network (Action MOVE/C4/2020-62) completed by 31 December 2022 

In 2017 the European Commission launched a Rail Technical Operational Issues Logbook, the main aim of which is to identify barriers to interoperability hampering international rail freight traffic, especially on rail freight corridors (RFCs). One of the most important priorities is the technical operational issue of different national braking rules and requirements. To harmonize braking rules within the TEN-T rail freight area in the EU, a working group set up by Xrail and the International Union of Railways (UIC) looked into concrete solutions to overcome this braking rule barrier. Linked with that initiative, a project named CEF PSA UBS Action was launched to resolve the technical operational issue of different national braking rules and requirements and to implement the Unified Braking Scheme (UBS) as a pilot project along the Rhine-Alpine Corridor. 

Investing in ETCS on-board deployment to retrofit existing locomotives of the type BR187 for interoperable freight traffic in seven European Countries along the Core Networks of the TEN-T (Project 101079036 - 21-DE-TG-ETCS-RETROFIT-187) planned to be completed by 31 August 2025 

The Action concerns the development of three prototypes for the retrofitting of BR187 DB Cargo locomotives with ETCS OBU Baseline 3. ETCS on these locomotives will ensure their seamless cross-border operation and thus contribute to the increase of productivity on freight lines across the EU. 

ETCS OBU B3 Serial Retrofit of vehicle type EG3100 and DE6400 (Project 101122513 - 22-DE-TG-ETCS-Serial-Retro-80) planned to be completed by 30 June 2026 

The project concerns the serial retrofitting of a fleet of 31 international freight locomotives with ETCS OBU Baseline 3, which will contribute to a smart and interoperable mobility on four Core Network Corridors. The main benefit of the project will be the increased interoperability and efficiency of the rail traffic in EU. 

ETCS OBU B3 Prototyping of 8 vehicles for freight operations across Europe with a fleet of up to 500 locos (Project 101122514 - 22-DE-TG-ETCS-PT-10-750) planned to be completed by 30 September 2026 

The project concerns the retrofitting of ETCS OBU Baseline 3 on a fleet of 8 First in Class (FiC) international prototype freight locomotives. The main benefit of the project will be the increased interoperability and efficiency of the rail traffic in EU. 

Nehmen Sie jetzt Kontakt mit unserem Experten auf.

Thomas Kaspar

DB Cargo AG