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Environmentally friendly transport operations for the world of tomorrow

With its climate- friendly products, DB Cargo offers its customers transport operations for a sustainable future.

Sustainability is one of the biggest opportunities and one of the biggest challenges of our time. If we fail to halt global warming, climate change will pose a threat to human habitats and cause natural disasters with unimaginable consequences. Carbon dioxide (CO2) – one of the main greenhouse gases – is responsible for warming up the atmosphere, for rising sea levels and for changes in the climate, as the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) explains in its regular reports on the topic.

The German government had decided well before the Paris Agreement to cut Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95 per cent by 2050 in comparison to the 1990 figure. Rail plays an important role in Ger-many’s climate protection strategy: traffic is the source of around one-fifth of Europe’s emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Traffic noise also has a negative impact on human health and the environment. Trade and industry therefore have a particular duty to design and develop sustainable and environmentally friendly transport concepts.
Without a strong rail system and a significant shift of transport operations from road to rail, it will be impossible to achieve a major reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport segment. In rail freight transport, companies can already cut around three-quarters of CO2 emissions by carrying out transport operations by rail rather than HGV.


From 2018, DB’s long-distance trains will be powered exclusively by green energy. Deutsche Bahn’s long-distance division is thereby the first and only mobility company in Germany to transport its customers to their destinations virtually CO2-free. With the launch of the green long-distance trains, DB is on course to achieve its new 2030 climate target. By 2030, the company is aiming to reduce the specific emission of greenhouse gases by more than half. DB is aiming to be completely CO2-free by 2050. To achieve this, it is gradually increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the DB rail electricity mix to 70 per cent by 2030. The current figure is 42 per cent.

DB Cargo is also operating with environmental awareness. The company recently launched a special ambassador: an e-loco- motive bearing the slogan “That is green.” on its side, which raises the profile of DB Cargo’s sustainable rail freight transport services and climate-friendly products. The branding reflects the ideas expressed by our customers on the topic “Why our environment is worth protecting”, which were gathered during the customer event “RailClub” at the transport logistic trade fair.


DB Cargo offers its customers the option of making the rail part of their supply chains even more environmentally sustainable. The rail company has developed two products to that end. With DB eco plus, companies can have their goods transported on all routes in Germany and Austria with no CO2 emissions. With DBeco neutral, DB Cargo offsets un- avoidable CO2 emissions that occur during transport operations – e.g. during the initial and final leg by HGV. That product is avail-able on all routes across Europe.

With these two products, DB Cargo is addressing customers who attach great import- ance to sustainability in their supply chains. The fact that customers from the chemicals, coal and steel, consumer goods and automotive industries have all opted for these prod- ucts proves that green rail transport is competitive and efficient.


However, that is not all. Over the last few years, DB Cargo has undertaken a number of measures to cut emissions in its oper- ations, and to reduce the energy and fuel requirements of its fleet.

One of these measures was training engine drivers in the art of energy-saving driving. These methods – anticipatory driving, exploiting time reserves, allowing the train to coast, and braking skilfully – have a direct effect on the train’s energy consumption. This approach can reduce the energy requirements of rail transport by up to ten per cent. Around 22,000 engine drivers have already been trained in energy-efficient driving at DB AG.

Automatic driver assistance systems support the engine driver on long routes. The digital driver assistance system LEADER (Locomotive Engineer Assist Display and Event Recorder) indicates, by means of an additional display in the cabin, the optimum speed for the train to navigate the timetable and route network as energy-efficiently as possible. DB Cargo has already fitted 300 e-locomotives with the system, which was developed in partnership by the rail freight company and the manufacturer Knorr-Bremse.

Another element that has been introduced is the automatic start-stop function in shunting locomotives at rail freight stations, which is similar to the technology used to switch off your car engine when you come to a standstill. A total of 230 shunting locomotives have already been fitted with this cutting-edge start-stop technology at DB Cargo since it was first introduced in 2015. And, finally, DB Cargo locomotives now feed braking energy back into the grid – the technology allows electricity from vehicles to be reused as propulsion energy.

DB “recycled” a total of 1,257 GWh of power in 2016 and fed it back into the rail electricity network. A total of 153 GWh of electricity was fed back in at DB Cargo.

The smart refurbishment of wagons is also part of the DB Cargo efficiency strategy. This has allowed staff at DB Cargo’s workshops to minimise the dead weight of wagons. Less weight on the rails means reduced en- ergy consumption. That, in turn, lowers energy costs and emissions of greenhouse gases.


In parallel with these developments, the rail freight company is also investing in cutting-edge vehicles and is acquiring up to 100 new mainline locomotives. DB Cargo is also making use of innovative technologies at marshalling yards. Working in partnership with Toshiba, a leading Asian supplier of rail vehicle technology, the rail company has agreed to develop and purchase new hybrid locomotives. In a ground-breaking research project, DB Cargo and DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung (vehicle maintenance division) are also testing how best to upgrade existing diesel-hydraulic shunting locomotives to hybrid technology. The trial has been carried out on two vehicles over the course of 2017 and will continue during 2018. The hybrid vehicles are deployed in the short-distance sector and they cut both diesel consumption (and thereby also CO2 emissions) and maintenance costs.

Last but not least, the topic of sustain- ability also covers the issue of noise. DB Cargo is upgrading its wagons by fitting them with composite brake shoes (V brake shoes). These reduce the noise emitted by passing rail freight traffic by around ten dB(A) – which is, to the human ear, equivalent to cutting noise by half. All new freight wagons acquired since 2001 have had the K brake shoe fitted as standard, and the existing fleet of wagons has been undergoing gradual conversion to the LL brake shoe since 2013. At the end of 2016, more than 50 per cent of DB Cargo’s wagons in Germany had been fitted with these whisper brakes. By the end of 2020 the com-pany’s whole fleet of active wagons in Germany will have been made quieter.

With all these endeavours, DB Cargo has put together a sustainable complete package, and is earning a reputation as a pioneer in climate-friendly logistics – for the benefit of all.

DB eco plus – CO2-free transport operations
With DB eco plus, companies can transport goods on all routes in Germany and Austria with no CO2 emissions. Using the independent calculator EcoTransIt World, the DB Cargo experts work out the exact energy requirements of the transport operations and produce a sustainable transport concept. On the basis of each individual quote, DB Cargo buys the corresponding volume of green electricity from domestic renewable energy sources, replacing the standard rail electricity mix by the same amount. Furthermore, ten per cent of the revenues from DB eco plus are used to fund plants that produce or store renewable electricity. The whole process, from the emissions calculation to the supply of the renewable electricity, is overseen by TÜV SÜD. The CO2 savings made by DB eco plus customers are also certified by TÜV, and can be taken into consideration in the company’s climate assessment.


DB eco neutral – CO2-neutral transport operations
With DB eco neutral, DB Cargo offsets unavoidable CO2 emissions so it is the perfect complement to DB eco plus. With the aid of EcoTransIT World, the DB Cargo experts calculate the CO2 emissions of the transport chain and present a customised quote for the CO2 offsetting potential. Customers also enjoy a great advantage with this product: in addition to reducing their emissions, they also support projects to improve the local environment and living conditions in countries around the world. In collaboration with the renowned organisation “atmosfair”, DB Cargo is investing in selected sustainability projects globally – projects that encourage the use of renewable energy and that reduce CO2 emissions. The projects have as their basis the international agreements of the Kyoto climate protection protocol and they meet the strictest standard for climate protection projects, CDM Gold. DB eco neutral customers receive a certificate outlining the volume of CO2 emissions that has been offset.