Increasing rail freight transport capacity by cooperation between companies in Germany

Marketa Horpeniakova, Published on 21/07/2022
Increasing rail freight transport capacity by cooperation between companies in Germany
@Michael_Luenen

A pilot project of the Pro-Rail Alliance and Menlo79 GmbH aims to see if it is possible to ease the strain on Germany's rail network, which is at its limits in many places.


There are more than 300 freight railways in Germany, but many of them are very overloaded, partly due to a record number of construction sites. As a consequence, freight trains are delayed but also temporarily shut down and relocated at short notice, which puts additional strain on the rail network. 

A project consortium with the participation of the non-profit Pro-Rail Alliance, with financial support from the Federal Ministry of Transport, now wants to find out how the situation can be defused by a cross-company deployment of train drivers. The cooperation across companies is intended, among other things, to ensure that maximum driving and rest times are complied with and to prevent trains from coming to a standstill due to a lack of personnel.

"Together with the freight railways and the employees, we want to explore the question of how digitally supported cross-company cooperation in the deployment of personnel on locomotives can succeed in rail freight transport," said Bernhard Knierim, project manager of the Pro-Rail Alliance and hopes that cross-company cooperation helps to better use of rail capacity: "Many delays are caused by heavy traffic and long journeys to the places of work. When train drivers spend more time in taxis and ICE trains than in the driver's cab, this is unsatisfactory for everyone involved.”

Software solutions such as those developed by Menlo79 GmbH, a member of the Pro-Rail Alliance, should help the capacity problems in Germany. It has the working title "Wilson.Share" in reference to the surname of the engine driver of the first German railway. “What is needed is a real industry solution that also works for short-term changes and enables cooperation between the companies in daily operations,” explained Gerrit Koch to Krax from StartUp Menlo79, which took over the consortium leadership for the project. A first pilot test, which should provide clarification on the legal and technical aspects, is planned to start next year.

The Wilson.Share project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV) through the federal programme "Future of Rail Freight Transport" with a total of around 4.2 million euros. In addition to the Pro-Rail Alliance and the consortium leader Menlo79 GmbH, the companies SCI Verkehr GmbH, Trainbutlers GmbH & Co. KG and Enginec e.K are part of the project.

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