DB to Use New Fibre-Optic Cables That Don’t Require Cable Troughs

Deutsche Bahn (DB) and partners have developed new fibre-optic cables that are resistant to many kinds of external influences, enabling them to be laid directly in the ground.

Railway digitalisation
Railway digitalisation

Without the need for cable troughs, installation is quicker and easier, with fewer construction sites and line closures.

The new fibre-optic cables, known as ‘outdoor cables’, are being used for the first time on the Odenwaldbahn, with the first few metres laid by DB Infrastructure Board Member Ronald Pofalla, Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer and Hesse’s Transport Minister Tarek Al-Wazir at a special event.

20,000km of the German rail network have already been equipped with conventional fibre-optic cables. The entire network measures 34,000km. However, only 8,200km still require cables because there are some locations where tracks run parallel to each other and do not require a doubling up of cables.

By the end of 2021, DB will have laid 27km of the outdoor cables between Darmstadt-Ost and Wiebelsbach-Heubach. This will then be followed by the 36km Lübeck–Ahrensburg route, as DB rolls out the technology as the new standard in Germany.

By 2026/27, DB will equip its entire remaining rail network completely with fibre-optic technology, creating the basic prerequisites for digitising rail traffic. Digitally controlled trains and digital signal boxes provide up to 20 percent more space in the rail network, enabling event more environmentally friendly trains can run.

Tarek Al-Wazir, Hessian Minister for Economic Affairs, Energy, Transport and Housing, said:

“Fibre-optic cables are a basic requirement for the digitisation of rail operations. Digitally controlled trains and digital signal boxes can bring more traffic onto the rails. And because of the large capacity, the new cables can also be used to digitise the adjacent area. I am delighted that the Odenwaldbahn is at the forefront of using the new outdoor cables and that laying can now begin.”

Where available, DB is offering telecoms companies access to any free bandwidth in its fibre-optic network, and the DB subsidiary broadband GmbH has already won large mobile communications companies and city utilities as customers. The proceeds of this will help fund the network’s expansion.

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