As part of the large-scale project Digital Rail Germany (DKS), the conversion of the entire control and safety technology to digital interlockings (DSTW), ETCS Level 2 without signals and other technologies such as the new train radio system FRMCS and automated operation, the Stuttgart node is a particularly important pilot application as part of the starter package.

The NBS Wendlingen-Ulm went into operation with ETCS Level 2 without signals at the timetable change in December 2022; promptly there were headlines about broken-down trains and diversions via the old line. However, DB set the record straight: after a driver’s error and a switch malfunction in the first few days with considerable consequences, the Wendlingen-Ulm service has been running without any problems since then. In addition, delayed ICE trains regularly made up time between Wendlingen and Ulm.

The next digitisation steps are already on the horizon: The Untertürkheim control area is scheduled to go into operation at the beginning of January 2023. In addition, the first sections of the S-Bahn control area of the Waiblingen DSTW will go into operation at the end of 2024. Then the S-Bahn line from Vaihingen to the airport will be converted to ETCS without signals from January 2025 and the S-Bahn main line in September 2025. The new Stuttgart Hbf underground station will go into operation at the timetable change in 2025 as the core of the Stuttgart railway network with digital technology and ETCS without signals and will be served by the mainline control section of the DSTW Waiblingen. Long-distance and regional trains heading for the underground station must then be equipped with ETCS at the Baseline 3 level, the same standard as on the NBS Wendlingen-Ulm.

The programme for equipping local trains serving the Stuttgart node with ETCS has already begun. In addition, DB Netzt is also preparing for the challenges of real operations in a digitised major node, where not everything always runs under ideal conditions. For example, a test operation is to be carried out from December 2024.

Source: Eisenbahnrevue 5/2023, S. 244 f.