Decarbonising transport with digital innovations


Decarbonising transport with digital innovations

DB Cargo is rolling out exciting projects to tackle future challenges.

There is no doubt that climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. Decisions made today will significantly impact the near and long-term future. Drastically reducing CO2 emissions is at the heart of measures to curb global warming – for industry, households and transport alike. Rail freight transport is pivotal to these efforts, with each freight train at today's capacity levels already replacing 52 trucks and reducing CO2 emissions by 80 to 100%. DB Cargo has chosen the slogan "Freight belongs on rail" to emphasise that embracing rail is the only way for the transport sector to significantly reduce its CO2 emissions and play its part in the fight against climate change. To achieve this goal, DB Cargo is implementing a variety of technical innovations to promote the digitalisation and automation of rail freight transport.  

With digital innovations for a transport turnaround.

Increasing and utilising capacity

Ein Güterwagen fährt für eine Kontrolle unter einer Kamerabrücke mit Künstlicher Intelligenz durch.
Camera gantries with artificial intelligence scan the train in seconds.

The high-performance rail network will form the backbone of this effort. In addition to this, innovations on freight trains and at other central locations such as marshalling yards will ensure increased capacity and more freight transport by rail. There is no silver bullet but rather a series of different developments that complement each other and improve effectiveness together. One of the testing grounds for DB Cargo's digital innovations is the Munich North marshalling yard, which will be the first digital yard in Germany. The goal is to increase marshalling yard capacity by up to 40%.

With the DAC, trains are coupled within minutes.

Increasing freight capacity with Digital Automatic Coupling

One of these new innovations is Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC), which is designed to significantly speed up the coupling process in future compared to the traditional manual coupling method. Using DAC on freight trains will lead to shorter turnaround times in marshalling yards, significantly increasing rail freight capacity. DAC will also connect power and data lines, paving the way for the smart freight train. DAC is currently being tested for series production and is set to revolutionise single wagonload transport.

Fully automatic hump locomotive and camera gantry pave the way for the digital yard of the future

The fully automatic hump locomotive ensures faster provision of the train.

At marshalling yards, DB Cargo is testing other innovations for the intelligent rail freight system, such as the fully automatic hump locomotive (VAL) and AI camera gantries. The VAL will autonomously perform the tasks of the traditional shunting locomotive, which is responsible for distributing the freight wagons to form trains. In future, the camera gantry will inspect freight wagons and automatically detect damage. The freight trains and their wagons will pass through the camera gantry, which will take pictures of the train from every angle. AI will then analyse whether the locomotive or any of the wagons need attention. This will ensure increased safety, speed up train preparation and further boost rail capacity.

Using innovations for more climate protection

DB Cargo is using these and other innovative developments to chart a path to success in shifting logistics from road to rail. The mix of different, AI-supported digital innovations, combined with improvements in rolling stock, underlines DB Cargo's role as a modern logistics provider with big environmental ambitions.