Germany’s First Semi-Autonomous Digital Train Calls Hamburg Home

The city of Hamburg, Germany now has the country’s first semi-autonomous digital train. The train was developed through a joint project by city authorities, Deutsche Bahn, and Siemens Mobility. The two companies have invested 60 million euros in the project, which is part of Deutsche Bahn’s Digital Rail Germany program.

The new train is termed “digital” as it includes software that can perform a range of functions without human input. Its innovations in the control section will allow S-Bahn Hamburg to run more trains safely, potentially increasing capacity by approximately 30% without requiring upgrades to the rail infrastructure.

Kay Arnecke, Managing Director, S-Bahn Hamburg said: “The digital S-Bahn Hamburg now takes our passengers, that is a change of era. With this technology, we can use up to 30 percent more trains without building a meter of new track. In addition, the digital control makes the S-Bahn more reliable and even more energy-efficient. Hamburg is thus a pioneer of the digital rail system in Germany.”

Though the digital train can accelerate, stop, open and close doors by itself, it is not completely autonomous – a trained driver will be on board to monitor the situation and also assist with turning.

Dean Balatinac, Head of Rail Sales at Siemens Mobility said: “Thanks to the route and vehicle equipment from Siemens, the digital S-Bahn Hamburg runs the perfect timetable, accurate to the second and energy-optimized – fully automated. We are thus supporting Deutsche Bahn in its goal of protecting the climate and at the same time making train travel even more attractive. Thanks to open interfaces, the technology can be used immediately by all operators worldwide and for all types of trains.”