Stuttgart S-Bahn Class 423 (Photo: Alstom/Dominik Schleuter)

GERMANY: DB Regio has awarded Alstom a €130m contract to supply ETCS and automatic train operation technology as part of a project to upgrade the Stuttgart S-Bahn network under the Stuttgart 21 programme

ETCS onboard equipment suitable for Level 2 or Level 3 operation will be fitted to 215 Class 423 and 430 electric multiple-units. This will support semi-automatic train operation to Grade of Automation 2, where the driver is responsible for starting the train. This is intended to allow operation at shorter headways and facilitate more intensive services.

Earlier this year, DB awarded Thales a €127m contract to supply and install ETCS lineside equipment on around 100 track-km by the end of 2025 as part of the Digital Node Stuttgart project. This is being backed by the Land of Baden-Württemberg as the first pilot large-scale installation of ETCS and digital interlockings on an urban network in Germany.

Alstom will initially retrofit two Class 423 and four Class 430 EMUs by the end of 2023 for pre-series trials. It will then deliver the series equipment and supervise its installation on a further 58 Class 423 and 151 Class 430 units. Alstom plans to provide its latest and compact EVC-3 with integrated ATO software from its Atlas product range. This will be integrated with the two different versions of the PZB train protection system that are currently installed (I60R or EBICAB).

The project is being managed by Alstom’s signalling plant in Berlin, in co-operation with the group’s ETCS competence centre in Charleroi and facilities at Braunschweig, Salzgitter, Mannheim, Hennigsdorf, Bangalore, Lyon-Villeurbanne and Bucuresti.

Work on the pre-series vehicles will be undertaken at the former Bombardier Transportation works in Hennigsdorf, where the trains are to undergo a mid-life refurbishment under a contract awarded in December. The series installation work will also be co-ordinated with train refurbishment, which is to be carried out by DB at three sites with Alstom providing technical support.

S-Bahn services are expected to begin using ETCS Level 2 on the first routes from January 2025, with GoA2 operation starting from the end of 2025.

A contractual agreement for a future upgrade to the next ETCS standards has already been agreed for 2026-27, ahead of the scheduled revision of the Control Command & Signalling TSI next year.

Technology co-operation

DB and Alstom are already co-operating to develop and implement further signalling initiatives, including the definition of technology requirements for a planned large-scale roll out of ETCS and ATO in Germany.

In addition to ETCS and ATO, this co-operation covers four areas:

  • preparing for the introduction of Future Railway Mobile Communication System 5G technology to succeed GSM-R;
  • implementing interfaces according to the emerging OCORA standards, allowing the standardisation of the interface between ETCS/ATO and other onboard systems, as well as simplifying future software upgrades;
  • introducing a train integrity monitoring system as a prerequisite for ETCS Level 3 operation, reducing the need for fixed train detection equipment such as axle counters or track circuits;
  • introducing technology for continuous vehicle data transmission to support a Capacity & Traffic Management System enabling optimised fleet and timetable management using ‘complex AI algorithms’.

‘By equipping the vehicles with the latest signalling technology and the innovation partnership with Deutsche Bahn, we are jointly making a decisive contribution to the implementation of the Stuttgart 21 project and the digitalisation of German rail transport’, said Michael Konias, Alstom’s Head of Digital & Integrated Systems for Germany, Austria & Switzerland, on June 24.

‘This signalling contract for the Stuttgart S-Bahn is another demonstration of the valuable synergies resulting from Alstom’s acquisition of Bombardier Transportation. The contract will also create over 150 digital rail jobs in Berlin, Braunschweig and Mannheim.’