Deutsche Bahn Is Building Overhead Line ‘Islands’ for Battery Trains

Deutsche Bahn has announced it will be building overhead line ‘islands’ for regional battery trains.

This means, instead of electrifying a line in full, as is conventional for electric trains to draw traction power, these lines will feature intermittent electrification. The first of these lines to become operational will be in Schleswig-Holstein in December 2023. Deutsche Bahn says it will only electrify short stretches (a few hundred metres up to a few kilometres) or stations – enough to allow battery-powered trains to recharge on these lines. The state rail operator estimates that this move will mean that more than ten million train kilometres can be completed using electric rather than diesel traction in Schleswig-Holstein. The diesel trains currently in use will be decommissioned. DB estimates an annual diesel fuel saving of around ten million litres.

Ronald Pofalla, DB Infrastructure Manager, said:

“Deutsche Bahn is furthering the climate transition on the rail network. Step by step we're saying goodbye to diesel and we're forging ahead with innovative infrastructure solutions as well as alternative traction drives and fuels. Overhead line islands will open up new opportunities for electrified rail transport in Germany, which is good for the climate.”

Bernd Buchholz, Schleswig-Holstein Minister of Transport, said:

“With the construction of three overhead line islands here in this state, we are not only reaffirming the innovative power of Schleswig-Holstein, but also emphasising that we are serious about climate protection. I am pleased that the DB is working with us to drive the construction of the necessary infrastructure forward and to take innovative paths here. The schedule is ambitious, but I'm sure we can do it and then from the end of this year we can run the first battery trains.”

Construction is to begin in Schleswig-Holstein in the autumn of 2022. The first step will be for Deutsche Bahn to electrify additional tracks at Kiel, Bad Oldesloe and Büchen stations. This alone will allow battery trains to operate in regular passenger service the country for the first time in 2022.

The next step will be to expand existing overhead lines on the route between Flensburg and Kiel as well as between Kiel and Kiel Hassee in 2023. DB will then construct the first overhead line ‘islands’ as well as substations to deliver the electricity on behalf of the state and the local transit agency on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein in Heide, Husum and Tönning. This will allow battery trains to operate here when the new timetable is implemented in December 2023.

There are two other federal states where overhead line ‘islands’ are to be constructed: Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia.

The preparatory plans have already been completed in southern Rhineland-Palatinate; and the preparatory plans are now underway in the Rhine-Ruhr region (NRW).

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