New climate-friendly locomotive fleet on the way

DB Cargo is becoming even more modern and efficient.

We're gradually replacing all of our diesel locomotives with modern, climate-friendly locomotives powered by alternative drive systems. DB Cargo currently has 300 new shunting and bi-mode locomotives in the pipeline. The first locomotives are slated to go into service as early as next year. In the long term, the aim is to replace around 900 older diesel locomotives.

"We're investing in our locomotive fleet because we're growing. State-of-the-art technology will help us achieve our climate targets for transport. Our modernisation programme will allow us to reduce diesel consumption by some 14 million litres per year," said Dr Sigrid Nikutta, DB Board Member for Freight Transport and CEO of DB Cargo.

Modern technology and renewable power

"The new locomotives will not only make freight operating companies even more climate-friendly; they will also make operations much more efficient and therefore more attractive," said Michael Theurer, Parliamentary State Secretary and Federal Commissioner for Rail Transport. "Thanks to technical advancements, even the heaviest loads can now be moved over the last mile or shunted without having to change personnel or equipment. We're using modern technology and renewable power to create clean supply chains," he added.

DB Cargo, Europe's largest freight operating company, already uses climate-friendly electric locomotives for 95% of its tractive output in the railway network. Soon, bi-mode or hybrid locomotives will handle shunting at freight yards and transport along the last mile to the customer. When transported by rail, freight has an 80% smaller carbon footprint than when transported by road.

Phasing out diesel locomotives at DB Cargo is based on three pillars:

1. Innovative hybrid shunting locomotive from Vossloh
Diesel, battery or variants with hydrogen fuel cell or the longer-lasting hydrogen piston engine - the modular platform of the DM 20 from Vossloh is ready for the integration of current as well as future energy storage and power generation technologies.

At the turn of the year, Vossloh Locomotives GmbH won a Europe-wide tender with its innovative hybrid shunting locomotive. The new locomotives are designed as plug-in hybrids but also have sufficient engine power with state-of-the-art exhaust gas cleaning to move freight trains weighing several thousand tonnes during shunting. The drive systems are designed to be modular and can simply be replaced as technology evolves. The German government is providing EUR 15 million in funding for the introduction of this innovative technology through the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport's package to promote alternative drive systems in rail transport. DB Cargo will begin using the 50 locomotives in 2024.

2. Read more here: bi-mode locomotives
The dual-power locomotives combine the advantages of a fully-fledged diesel locomotive with those of electric locomotives.

Bi-mode locomotives offer the best of both worlds. They have a powerful electric drive system, allowing them to move heavy freight trains over long distances below the contact wire. If the electric contact wire is missing on secondary lines or when trains deliver freight to a customer's premises, the drive system only needs to be switched over to diesel mode, eliminating the need to change the locomotive and the locomotive driver. Siemens Mobility won a DB tender with its Vectron Dual Mode locomotives over a year ago. DB Cargo has now upped the initial delivery of 100 locomotives, planned to begin in 2023, to 150 locomotives. An additional 46 locomotives will be equipped with specific customisations for DB Cargo's planned range of uses, with four locomotives going to DB Bahnbau Gruppe, DB's subsidiary for rail construction. 

3. Read more here: hybrid shunting locomotives from Toshiba

The third pillar of the new strategy is the procurement of Toshiba HDB 800 hybrid shunting locomotives. DB Cargo plans to use a total of 100 of these locomotives, which are manufactured in Rostock. The first rollout is scheduled for 2024.