Deutsche Bahn and Stadler Sign Agreement to Develop Digital Twin

Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Stadler have signed an agreement to develop the first virtual image, or digital twin, of a complete train.

According to DB, digital twins are key to improving vehicle reliability and capacity on the rails. By processing and analysing vehicle data in real time they can spot problems before they happen, preventing disruptions and breakdowns and ensuring trains are sent for repair when necessary. This will make rail transport more reliable and therefore more attractive.

Deutsche Bahn and Stadler are developing the first digital twin of a complete train.
Deutsche Bahn and Stadler are developing the first digital twin of a complete train.

This is the first partnership of its kind between a rail company and vehicle manufacturer, and they hope other organisations may follow their lead using a similar model.

Sabina Jeschke, Member of the Management Board for Digitalisation and Technology at Deutsche Bahn, said:

“The cooperation with Stadler is a big step for the digitalisation of rail operations. We're showing that exchanging data with train manufacturers benefits both sides. It's primarily passengers that are helped by trains becoming more punctual and reliable. Only by digitalising rail operations can climate-friendly mobility transition succeed.”

The first train to get a digital twin is a Stadler FLIRT, DB Class 429.1. DB operates 28 of these multiple unit trains in regional transport in Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, parts of Baden-Württemberg and the Saarland.

The digital twin will initially focus on the train’s air-conditioning, doors and wheelsets. The data sent by these components will be processed using artificial intelligence (AI) to create an increasingly accurate simulation of the real train. Its physical behaviour will be taken into account in addition to the vehicle’s mechanics, electrics and software.

A prototype is currently being equipped with the systems to record and transmit data, with the digital twin expected to be fully functional by the end of the year. The other 27 FLIRT units will follow.

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