DB opens its first digital interlocking system

A stock photo of a Erzgebirgsbahn train in Annaberg-Buchholz. Photo: Ad Meskens.
A stock photo of a Erzgebirgsbahn train in Annaberg-Buchholz. Photo: Ad Meskens.

State-owned German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) has opened its first digital interlocking system in the town of Annaberg-Buchholz, Saxony.

The inauguration represents the starting point for the nationwide rollout of the latest generation of interlocking systems following tests by DB subsidiary Erzgebirgsbahn.

In a statement on its website, DB described the new interlocking – a system which authorises trains to continue to cross points or not depending on network traffic – as a “revolution” in its safety technology.

Klaus Müller, the chief technology officer for DB’s infrastructure subsidiary DB Netz, said that it (Translated from German) “represents one of the largest technology projects in the history of Deutsche Bahn”.

He added: “Intelligent communication networks and the associated standardisation and modularisation of technology are trend-setting for the coming years.

“They allow us to make rail transport more economical, resource-saving and more efficient for our customers.

“The new interlocking technology is therefore a milestone in the digitisation of infrastructure and the basis for more capacity and punctuality in rail transport.”

Like this story? Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date on rail industry news

The new system was supplied by Siemens Mobility. CEO Michael Peter added (Translated from German): “The solution used in Annaberg-Buchholz is an important step towards the signal box in the cloud.

“For the first time, the interlocking system issues its control commands IP-based to the connected field elements such as points and signals.

“This leads to a completely new flexibility of planning, enables intelligent field elements and will generate positive cost effects in the longer term.

“All this, of course, while meeting the highest safety requirements in operation.”

A feature of the new interlocking system is that the operator’s control commands are transmitted digitally to switches, signals or track contacts.

The new system therefore also allows signals and switches to be controlled at significantly greater distances.

Read more: CRRC concern over additional US trade tariffs