“Working together to shape the progress”

Future railways are going to be digital. Deutsche Bahn (DB) is also pursuing this goal.
An important element in this digital strategy are pre-series projects in which multiple manufacturers demonstrate the compatibility of their digital interlocking technology. Together with DB Netz AG, Siemens Mobility is now implementing one of these projects – Germany’s second digital interlocking.

When it comes to digitalizing the rails, Deutsche Bahn (DB) is pioneering the way for the entire industry. The digital interlocking (DSTW) is the largest and most significant infrastructure project in the company’s history. The pilot project will be followed up by additional DSTW projects. The old relay interlocking at the Warnemuende station in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is being replaced with an interlocking of the latest generation.

Safe operation with fewer disruptions

Nearly half of the 3,000 interlockings operated by DB in Germany today are relay interlockings that were put into service in the 1950s. Up to now, the latest generation of interlocking technology have been the electronic models. Digital interlockings will gradually take over the work of the older machines, which are increasingly prone to failure and exist in innumerable versions throughout the country – and they’ll also save money. DB AG expects improved diagnostic options and savings due to easier maintenance. Rail passengers will continue to benefit from safer operation with a lot fewer disruptions.

Warnemuende launches later this year

Deutsche Bahn’s subsidiary DB Netz AG is a railway infrastructure company that operates about 87.5 percent of the German rail network. It’s currently driving the conversion to the new technology – which is based on standardized interfaces and a new platform architecture – in five pre-series projects, with the goal of readying DSTW technology for series production. One of these projects is the DSTW Warnemuende, a joint project between DB and Siemens Mobility. It will be built near the Warnemuende shipyard and begin operation on schedule. It will be the second digitally operated interlocking in Germany. “We’ve done very well,” says André Lisker, responsible Sales Manager at Siemens Mobility GmbH.

Sole responsibility for a new DSTW

DB Netz AG agrees. In mid-2018, they commissioned Siemens Mobility to implement the DSTW Warnemuende conversion. “In our collaborations so far, Siemens has proven to be an innovative partner and has explicitly demonstrated its experience and technical expertise,” says Ingo Buhlke, Project Manager, Large-scale Projects, East, at DB Netz AG.

According to Lisker, it was also decided in the course of the project that Siemens would build the central technology location for the DSTW. In this project, it will be temporarily established in Warnemuende. “I can’t imagine a greater vote of confidence,” says the sales expert. DSTW Warnemuende will be implemented in multiple construction phases. The first section will go into service by September 2019, and the remaining section, including the Warnemuende passenger station, will be ready by May 2020.

Manageable sections

The other pre-series projects are being implemented in Meitingen-Mertingen, Harz-Weser-Netz (HWN), and on the Koblenz-Trier and Meitingen-Mertingen lines. These are all suitable lines for testing the new technology. With 22 points and 66 signals on a nine-kilometer line, Warnemuende is certainly not a huge project, but it’s an extremely important one – for both companies, according to Lisker. Until now, only one DSTW, also supplied and implemented by Siemens Mobility, – has been put into operation in Germany, at Erzgebirgsbahn in Annaberg-Buchholz. Warnemuende is well on its way to becoming the second digital flagship project of this type.


Signaling Technology 4.0

“At its core, DSTW Warnemuende corresponds to our Annaberg-Buchholz pilot project in terms of the technology,” explains Lisker. Once again, the heart of the project is Trackguard Sinet. This new technology separates the processes of information transmission and power supply. The interlocking system and the field elements exchange data via Ethernet. The major challenge is to meet Deutsche Bahn’s safety requirements for infrastructure technology. “Among other things, our control devices are intrinsically safe and are continuously monitored by the interlocking system,” Lisker says. Maximum safety combined with modern mobility: “Trackguard Sinet offers unlimited remote monitoring, high-functioning outdoor equipment, standardized interfaces, and IP-based communication, and it’s also ready for immediate use. We’re calling it ‘Signaling Technology 4.0.’” Siemens Mobility is also using Trackguard Sigrid, a modern distributed power-supply concept.

Better quality in many areas

DSTW Warnemuende marks the beginning of a systematic program to refurbish the area of the interlocking system over the coming years, including the seaport. In a consecutive construction phase, Deutsche Bahn will introduce an integrated operating system that will standardize operation and provide a uniform user interface for the long-distance and urban networks. “The solutions used in Annaberg-Buchholz and Warnemuende are an important step toward interlockings in the cloud,” says Michael Peter, CEO of Siemens Mobility. “For the first time ever, an interlocking system is transmitting its IP-based commands to the system’s field elements, including points and signals. This enables an entirely new level flexibility in planning, makes it possible to use intelligent field elements, and will generate positive cost effects over the longer term. And all this is achieved, of course, while meeting the strictest safety standards for operations.”

The DSTW is the technological successor to the electronic interlocking (ESTW). Both interlockings use redundant computer systems to check and process the dispatcher’s switching commands. They differ in terms of the transmission of commands to points, signals, track contacts, and level crossings. With the ESTW, this occurred via conventional electrical switching technology, often with the aid of extremely long cable bundles. Digital interlockings transmit switching commands using modern Ethernet technology. In addition to a longer control distance, they have the advantage of requiring much less cable. The individual connections to each interlocking element via cable are no longer necessary.


Picture credits: Siemens Mobility GmbH

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