Island Hopping for Battery Trains: DB Begins Construction of OLE Islands

Deutsche Bahn (DB) has begun construction of electrified overhead contact line islands that will charge battery-powered trains in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

These islands will provide a future energy supply for battery-powered trains without the need for end-to-end electrification – something standard electric trains would require. Instead, the technology only requires short sections of track or individual stations to be electrified. Battery-powered trains are then able to use the overhead line to charge their batteries for journeys through non-electrified sections.

DEutsche Bahn Charging Islands
Initially, more than 30 additional catenary masts are required in the Kiel and Büchen stations
DB Infrastructure Board Member Berthold Huber said:

“With innovative infrastructure and state-of-the-art technology, we are continuing to push ahead with the expansion of alternative drives. Our goal is clear: Deutsche Bahn will be climate-neutral by 2040. We are also helped by creative solutions such as the overhead contact line island for battery-powered trains.”

In the future, Deutsche Bahn estimates that this system will enable more than ten million kilometres of train traffic in Schleswig-Holstein to be be powered with electricity rather than diesel, with a potential reduction in diesel use of around ten million litres annually.

Schleswig-Holstein's Economics Minister Claus Ruhe Madsen said:

“Thanks to battery-powered trains, most of the diesel multiple units in Schleswig-Holstein will soon be obsolete. New infrastructure solutions are also needed for this innovative solution in the field of vehicles. The construction of the overhead line islands for the battery trains is an important step towards climate-neutral local transport for the country.”

The first catenary masts are currently being erected at Kiel and Büchen stations. The first substations and overhead line islands will then be constructed in the federal state by the end of 2023.

Deutsche Bahn wants to expand this approach to further federal states too, citing Rhineland-Palatinate and the Rhine-Ruhr region as areas where preparatory plans have been completed or initiated.

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