Daily work of a mobile maintenance team

Mann bei der Arbeit im Instandshaltungswerk Köln

What does a mobile maintenance team do?

DB Cargo’s locomotives and wagons undergo regular maintenance. But sometimes things break along the way. That is where the mobile teams come in.


The teams consist of two to three technicians. We operate within a radius of roughly a hundred kilometres around our site. We usually deal with more minor issues that do not require a workshop with a rail pit or a crane. For example, a collision with a stone could cause a piece of a brake shoe to snap off. We can replace those on an outpatient basis, so to speak. A door might be stuck or a spring might be broken.

Since we usually know what needs to be done, we load up the appropriate replacement parts. That way a Sprinter is enough for us. But some teams also travel in 7.5 tonne vehicles.

You might think we work out in the open, but that happens very rarely. Vehicles can usually make it to a station, or the damage is noticed at the station. The damaged wagon is then separated from the others to keep them from being delayed.

But sometimes the wagons are in a tricky spot. Then we have to take replacement parts that weigh several kilograms and carry them over several hundreds of metres to the site. For example, a brake shoe made out of gray cast iron weighs eleven kilograms. Fortunately, the coatings on the new whisper brakes are made of plastic composite material, and they only weigh three and a half kilograms.

  • 100 kilometres is the approximate operating radius of one team.
  • 83,300 freight wagons and more than 2,700 locomotives are operated at DB Cargo.
“If possible, we quickly get damaged vehicles moving again. Replacement parts are heavy, which can really make you sweat.”

Nils Polenz, Member of a mobile maintenance team in Cologne-Gremberg​​​​​​​

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