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Annual review 2019 - Outlook for 2020

Germany needs Strong Rail. For the climate. For people. For the economy. For Europe.

With its "Strong Rail" strategy, Deutsche Bahn is focusing on growth in passenger and freight transport as well as the expansion of capacities for the entire industry. For our country will only achieve its climate targets if it succeeds in transferring huge volumes of traffic to rail in the coming decade. The basic prerequisite for this is not only investment worth billions in infrastructure and new rolling stock, but above all in robustness and reliability during operation. As DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung, we will make our contribution to this. Vehicle availability is our core business. This is where we want and need to become even better as part of the "Strong Rail" strategy. And this is why our focus in 2020 will be on measures to strengthen robustness.

Realignment for more efficiency

2019 was already marked by many changes. We successfully started a functional realignment in order to meet our customers’ requirements in a better way by increasing efficiency and minimising interfaces. As the Chair of the new DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung Management Board, I bear the responsibility for this together with Ramona Grün (Managing Director for Human Resources) and Karsten Reinhardt (Managing Director for Finance and Controlling). We view our customers as partners. At our twelve maintenance depots with qualified employees, we have cross-vehicle expertise that is in demand both inside and outside Deutsche Bahn. Together, we seek to and will continuously improve our service, especially with regard to vehicle availability, for example by expanding maintenance capacities, but also by digitalising and automating maintenance processes.

IT solutions for the entire travel chain

Building on our expertise in modernising rail vehicles, we have developed a range of IT solutions, IT products and IT services along the entire travel chain in our portfolio Colibri - "Coach Link for Broadband Information exchange". They can be used in all rail and road vehicles as well as at stations. Rail travellers owe one of the greatest amenities to Colibri: internet access. This year we have already equipped the S-Bahn Rhein Main and S-Bahn Stuttgart fleets with Colibri – more will follow. In 2020, the focus will also be on the further development of passenger counting and guidance: seat sensors will determine the capacity utilisation of the trains, their occupancy will be transmitted via WiFi.

3D printing supports obsolescence management

The availability period of spare parts is often shorter than that of the vehicles in which they are installed. The Obsolescence Management team at DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung not only procures obsolete components for you but also finds alternative replacements or manufactures replica parts, which is possible thanks to 3D printing, among other things. In this way, we extend the life cycle of our customers' vehicles. This year we have already printed around 4,000 parts - including a 27-kilogram steel component for use in high-speed operation. In 2020, we will continue to expand our 3D printing division, which we have also anchored in our industrial-technical training.

Maintenance depot strategy – targeted investment in the future

Together with the employee representatives, we have developed a future concept for the maintenance depots at DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung. By optimising quality and reliability, we seek to further increase the satisfaction of our customers. We are aligning the product portfolio and the equipment of our maintenance depots with future requirements and investing in their future in a targeted way. In doing so, we are strengthening the specific competencies already existing in the depots. In concrete terms, for example, we plan to concentrate the maintenance of diesel and hybrid locomotives at the Cottbus maintenance depot from 2021. This is why we are investing in a new production hall there. The Bremen maintenance depot will focus on reconditioning components in future, in particular motors and powerpacks. This product segment is successful in the international market – and we will continue to invest in it.

Cottbus Centre of Expertise

The Cottbus maintenance depot, our Centre of Expertise for diesel-hydraulic and diesel-electric rail vehicles, also specialises in conversions such as repowering or retrofitting. The maintenance depot will play an important role in the maintenance of long-distance trains as part of the national effort to double passenger numbers. This also applies with regard to Climate Targets. Our depot is currently strategically focusing on upgrading diesel locomotives to environmentally-friendly hybrid drives. The planned HELMS (Hybrid Electronic Mechanical Shunter) project aims to upgrade diesel-powered shunting locomotives from DB Cargo to hybrid drives. In addition to the stationary work, the maintenance depot also offers mobile maintenance at the customer's site. This eliminates transport routes and reduces vehicle downtime to a minimum. We are convinced that all our customers will benefit from our depot strategy and the future-oriented orientation of DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung.

Don't forget history when you look ahead

We are constantly looking forward, but we are not forgetting our history and traditions. Our production site in Chemnitz celebrated its 150th birthday this year, and our Dessau maintenance depot turned 90. And the Steam locomotive maintenance depot in Meiningen opened its gates for the 25th time for the annual steam locomotive days.

Great expectations, great opportunities

Never before has there been as much social consensus as today that we need environmentally friendly alternatives to road traffic. The expectations of the rail companies are high, as are the challenges. But if the industry masters them, it will have opportunities like never before. As DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung, we will do our utmost to make our contribution.

On behalf of all my colleagues, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Successful New Year!

Gorden Falk