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The future of freight rail

DB Cargo is planning to equip its entire fleet with smart sensors, smart telematics systems and whisper breaks by 2020.
DB Cargo continues to ‘digitalise’ its freight wagon fleet: by 2020, every one of the roughly 70,000 wagons in Germany will be fitted with state-of-the-art sensors and telematics systems. Some 19,000 wagons will be retrofitted this year, with the remaining 50,000 to follow by 2020. A total of 1,000 wagons have already been equipped with smart technology. DB Cargo management recently approved tens of millions in investment in smart wagon technology between now and 2020.
Wagons equipped with GPS and other sensor technology will benefit DB Cargo customers directly. GPS will enable direct, constant wagon tracking, which in turn will make it possible to calculate estimated time of arrival. The sensors will also provide information about whether each wagon is full or empty, and about the temperature and humidity levels inside the wagon. Such information is key to ensuring effective end-to-end supply chains for customers. If paper reels, for example, are too damp when they arrive at the printing works, they cannot be used immediately to print newspapers. The wagon sensors will also be able to detect mechanical factors, such as bumps that occur during shunting.
“In a world of ever-increasing digitalisation, today’s customers expect a high level of service – they want to know, in real time, where their freight is, when it will arrive and what condition it is in,” said CEO of DB Cargo Dr Roland Bosch. “This is why we are retrofitting our entire fleet with digital technology.
“We are also dedicated to sustainability, and so we are making sure that our wagons are also low-noise. We want to offer a digital, low-noise wagon fleet that shows our customers how serious we are about performance, and that ultimately helps shift more traffic to rail.”
By 2020, DB Cargo will be retrofitting all the freight wagons that run in Germany with ‘whisper’ brakes. Whisper brakes keep the wheel surface smooth when the brakes are applied, halving the noise emissions generated by the wheels as they roll. Some two-thirds of DB Cargo’s own fleet has already been retrofitted, with nearly 11,000 more wagons scheduled for retrofitting in 2018.

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