Driver and colleague in the cab of railway engine

DB Cargo drivers get ‘live’ speed efficiency advice

Driver and colleague in the cab of a locomotiveDeutsche Bahn AG / Kiên Hoàng Lê

DB Cargo drivers in Germany are pioneering a new ‘real time’ system aimed at making journeys as energy-saving as possible. The company is the first in Europe to utilise the Locomotive Engineer Assist Display and Event Recorder (LEADER) system, which has been designed to help deliver a sustainable transport system.

From a dedicated digital display in the driver’s cab, LEADER gives the driver live recommendations for maintaining speeds which are as energy-efficient as possible, based on calculations of the train’s schedule and the altitude profile of the route.


Manufactured by Knorr-Bremse, this innovation has been developed against the background of a global drive to ensure rail freight transportation becomes more climate-friendly. For its part, DB Cargo’s parent company Deutsche Bahn is planning to reduce CO2 emissions of all its global traffic by 30 per cent compared to 2006 by 2020. In addition to increasing the share of renewable energies in rail transport and the use of modern vehicles, energy-saving driving is one of the key measures to effectively achieve this.

There is significant potential for making savings within the environment of the driver’s cab, with energy meters able to measure the vehicle’s output. Through this process, all drivers are informed on a monthly basis of how much energy their trains have consumed. Energy-reduction measures are also a vital part of training, which helps to keep the drivers informed of results and developments.

Making savings

To help facilitate a wider public understanding of the LEADERS process and the energy-saving issues faced by a carrier like DB Cargo, it has also developed a train simulator app for smartphones and tablets. The ‘DB Zug Simulator’ shows how the energy-efficient system works on-board, and users can brake and roll the train in the right places, based on the type of recommendations that drivers receive.

Downloaded more than 600,000 times, the Zug app, which is available on the iOS and Android platforms and also in a web version, recently won the Sustainability Champion Award from the International Railway Association (UIC). A newly-updated version was presented at the recent DB Sustainability Day, with the then Chairman Dr Rüdiger Grube taking up the challenge of being a ‘virtual driver’.

Author: Simon Weedy

Simon is a journalist for - a dedicated online platform for all the news about the rail freight sector

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