Getting locomotives on track with data glasses

Insights into the locomotive’s interior: Our customer SBB Cargo International subjects the driver’s cabin to close scrutiny. When moving the camera to the left, the viewer can already take a close look at the specification. A standard procedure for the acceptance of locomotives and passenger trains alike. But the question is: How is this possible while at the same time complying with the strict Covid-19 regulations? The solution: acceptance via data glasses. For 4 Vectron locomotives, this has been achieved for the very first time in March this year.

“In times of the Covid-19 pandemic, our strategically important partnership has made this possible from one day to the next. Now, we are looking forward to continuing treading new, creative ground together.” 
Sven Flore, CEO of SBB Cargo International

The idea behind this forward-looking approach is simple: enabling virtual customer acceptance, without the customer having to travel on site and being exposed to the risk of infection. And this is how the idea was put into practice: During digital handover, the technician wears data glasses – either real glasses or a kind of helmet camera. The live image and sound are transmitted directly to the customer. This means that the customer is virtually present in the driver’s cab – during both the initial inspection and the test trip. 

However, such an experiment would not have been possible without the long-standing business relationship built on mutual trust with our customer SBB Cargo International. This intensive cooperation has proven its worth for more than 5 years: 38 (BR 193) Vectron locomotives are already in service at this company. The rail freight specialist operating on the North-South Rail Corridor crossing the Swiss Alps urgently needed the locomotives in order to perform system-critical tasks to ensure the continuity of freight transport from the North Sea ports right down to Italy. That is why the suggestion to organize a digital acceptance process caught the customer’s attention right away.

A practice-oriented solution was the need of the hour – and Quality Manager Heinrich Brunner had it on hand: “We already prepared for the use of data glasses several months ago”, Brunner explains. But the fact that they could be successfully tested in practice within such a short time is due to the Covid-19 restrictions. “This acceptance procedure for SBB Cargo International was now the perfect opportunity for us to successfully deploy our innovation”, he adds proudly. A milestone in our digital development.

Since the delivery of our first Vectron locomotives, the cooperation with Siemens Mobility has been characterized by high professionalism. Cooperation based on trust and reliability provided the basis for testing this new approach which was already presented at a customer conference in Munich several years ago. What looked like a science fiction show at that time has now been implemented in practice. We are proud to be the first Siemens Mobility partner to have taken this step into the digital future.
Sven Flore, CEO of SBB Cargo International, who is extremely satisfied with the digital handover

This procedure will be subjected to further testing and improved in order to be able to deploy it as a standardized alternative for train handover procedures in the medium to long term. For Siemens Mobility, handover via data glasses is just another piece in the puzzle of the digital future – similar to other procedures already in place such as predictive maintenance or automatic vehicle inspection. In addition to customer-related processes, further potential fields of application include authorization procedures with public authorities and smart applications for passengers.


These and other technical innovations ensure smooth rail business operations – even in the current situation. At the moment, we mainly rely on digital handover to avoid the risk of infection. Looking somewhat further ahead, however, customer journeys for acceptance procedures could even become totally avoidable, thus contributing to reducing the environmental footprint caused by air travel and other individual transport modes. SMO is already planning further digital handovers via data glasses. 

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