Cross-company train driver deployment project to ease strain on rail freight in Germany
Deploying train drivers more flexibly across the many rail freight companies in Germany could make better use of rail capacity, which is currently straining in many places in the country. A project with the Pro-Rail Alliance and startup Menlo79 aims to find out whether and how a digital solution can transform the deployment of drivers, starting a pilot test next year.
In Germany, there are more than 300 freight railway enterprises on the public rail network. The country’s railway network is currently at its limit in many places, partly due to a record number of construction sites. The consequences are delays and temporarily parked goods trains, which are rescheduled at short notice. This puts additional strain on the network.
“In order to ensure compliance with the maximum driving and rest times and at the same time prevent trains from coming to a standstill due to a lack of personnel, it makes sense to cooperate across companies, especially in the case of long delays”, said Bernhard Knierim, project manager of the Pro-Rail Alliance.
Spending more time in the train driver’s cab
Menlo79, which leads the project consortium, is a startup which developed a digital solution for the scheduling of train drivers. It has the working title “Wilson.Share” in reference to the surname of the train driver of the first German railway company. Software solutions such as those developed by Menlo79 GmbH, one of the Alliance’s members, should help the capacity problems in Germany, says the Pro-Rail Alliance.
The project aims to investigate the question of how digitally supported cross-company cooperation in the deployment of personnel on locomotives can succeed in rail freight transport, together with the freight railways and the employees. Knierim: “Many delays are caused by heavy traffic and long journeys to the places of work. When train drivers spend more time in taxis and on ICE trains than in the driver’s cab, this is unsatisfactory for everyone involved.”
Solution that also works for short-term changes
The Wilson.Share project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport (BMVI) through the federal programme “Future of Rail Freight Transport” with a total of 4.2 million euros. In addition to the Pro-Rail Alliance and the consortium leader Menlo79 GmbH, the companies SCI Verkehr GmbH, Trainbutlers GmbH & Co. KG and Enginec e.K are part of the project.
A first pilot test with the solution is planned to start next year. “There are still a lot of questions to be answered, from acceptance to legal and technical aspects”, says Gerrit Koch to Krax from Menlo79. “What is needed is a real industry solution that also works for short-term changes and enables cooperation between the companies in daily operations”.