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Digitale Schiene: powering digital rail in Germany

• Nation-wide rollout of ETCS in Germany by 2035
• Digital Node Stuttgart as a lighthouse project for digital rail in Germany
• World premiere of ATO on regional train lines

As a global market leader for innovative train and track equipment, as well as autonomous mobility concepts, Alstom is making a significant contribution to the digitalisation of German rail transport. Alstom has a large role in the integration of ETCS (European Train Control System) on over 13,000 vehicles and train routes across Germany. 

With more than 120 ETCS projects worldwide, 19,200 on-board units and 13,300 km of equipped lines, Alstom not only combines leading know-how in standards for uniform European signalling technology but is also laying the foundation for automated railway operations in Germany and Europe.

ETCS projects worldwide
on-board units
km of equipped lines

Sustainability through innovation

For over 30 years, we have been the driving force in the development of innovative and high-performance mobility solutions for safe and, above all, more sustainable local and long-distance transport that benefits our passengers and the environment. 

The transformation of Stuttgart's main station as part of the large-scale Digital Node project serves as an international pioneer project for Automatic Train Operation (ATO). This is the first time worldwide that ATO at the GoA-2 level is being used in commercial regional transport operations on the basis of fully integrated ETCS hardware. The degree of automation indicates the extent to which train operators are supported or replaced, which corresponds to the highest level of GoA-4. For the planned operation start of the first two modules in the Stuttgart Digital Node in 2025, Alstom will equip 115 regional trains with state-of-the-art signalling technology.

  • Standardisation of the European System

    Standardisation of the European System

    By participating in the development of uniform European standards and the use of ETCS, a uniform train control system is guaranteed within Europe.

  • Increasing capacity

    Increasing capacity

    Frequency of train operation can be increased and delays can be better mitigated. This guarantees more stability in train traffic, leading to a decreased need to plan reserves for staff reaction times.

  • Improved flexibility and reliability

    Improved flexibility and reliability

    ATO allows for more modes of operation and therefore greater flexibility and reliability in operation services. Timetables can be adjusted in real time and lines with low usage can be operated more flexibly.

  • Saving costs and energy

    Saving costs and energy

    Energy consumption is reduced by 15% in long-distance traffic and up to 45% in local traffic. Demand and pressure on trains and tracks decreases, reducing wear and tear and enabling easier maintenance.

  • Improved passenger comfort

    Improved passenger comfort

    The risk of accidents is minimised through a combination of human and technological features. Accurate stopping at platforms, increased punctuality, and less braking and acceleration contribute significantly to improved passenger comfort.

The automation of rail transport ensures greater flexibility, reduced signal distances and maintenance costs with maximum safety for our passengers. In combination with ETCS, ATO forms the foundation for an efficient, sustainable and digital future in European local and long-distance transport. Further pioneering projects in the field of the highest levels of automation are planned for 2023 in France and Belgium.

Automatic train operation - video thumbnail

Digitalisation for the future

The new technical heart of the digital rail fleet is the innovative onboard computer from Alstom, which will be installed in vehicles as standard in the future. Here, all incoming information from the on-board ETCS and trackside equipment is bundled and forwarded directly to vehicle control personnel and the train operators.

In the future, traffic will be safely guided by digital interlockings and RBCs (Radio Block Centres), which communicate commands from the operations control centre to the vehicles by radio. Modern sensor technology makes it possible to detect track signals or anomalies along the line. In the long term, digitalisation will reduce the number of train control systems, which are currently still numerous and different from one another, in order to further standardise cross-border connections. 

The digital transformation of European rail transport requires innovative concepts and technologies. In Germany alone, 35,000 km of track spread over 157 network districts must be equipped with ETCS and other innovations such as ATO.

  • The trade press reports

    Read a selection of articles about our signalling solutions in the trade press:



    Download (PDF)

    HealthHub Signalling – a powerful remote diagnosis tool for signalling equipment

    (Signal + Draht, 12/2022)

    PDF ​​​

    Innovative cooperation for the vehicle equipment at Stuttgart Digital Node

    (Signal + Draht, 9/2022)


Das European Train Control System (ETCS) erleichtert den Eisenbahnverkehr über Grenzen hinweg. Die Technologie für das digitale Bahnnetz sorgt für echte Interoperabilität und eröffnet den Weg für das automatisierte Fahren. ETCS macht Streckensignale überflüssig, erhöht die Geschwindigkeit und verringert die Wartungskosten – alles bei weiterhin höchster Sicherheit.

Lesen Sie wie Alstom ETCS die Digitalisierung aufs Gleis bringt:

Thumbnail Brochuree Onboard goes digital

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