Cottbus maintenance depot to be made fit for the future
At a high-level meeting on 5 June 2019, Dietmar Woidke, the Minister President of the German state of Brandenburg, and Ronald Pofalla, Member of the Management Board for Infrastructure at Deutsche Bahn, jointly signed a letter of intent to include infrastructure projects in the cornerstones of a law geared towards providing structural support for coal regions. Some of the measures planned will be directed at the Cottbus depot creating positive prospects for its future.
As three of the 23 measures for the region concern the Cottbus maintenance depot itself, it was chosen as the venue for the signing ceremony. The aim of these projects is to expand the existing maintenance infrastructure of the DB Group at the Cottbus site, in order to eliminate future capacity bottlenecks in the maintenance of long-distance trains and at the same time to boost the region's economy.
"At Deutsche Bahn, we are not only supporting structural change in Lusatia, we are helping to shape it," said Pofalla. "We want to make the Cottbus maintenance depot attractive again. As an important employer, we feel committed to the region and will create 150 new jobs at the depot once funds are pledged by the German federal government."
The measures at a glance
Modernisation of existing infrastructure for diesel and hybrid locomotives
Due to the declining maintenance market for diesel-powered vehicles, the Cottbus maintenance depot is currently strategically focusing on upgrading diesel locomotives to climate-friendly hybrid drives. The challenge in 2019 and 2020 is to prepare the planned "HELMS" (Hybrid Electronic Mechanical Shunter) project and implement it on schedule. The aim of the project is to upgrade DB Cargo AG's diesel-powered shunting locomotives to a hybrid drive. To do this, the depot needs a modernised infrastructure which is also geared towards future market volume and new shifts in demand.
Construction of a new maintenance hall for electrically powered trains
Due to fleet expansions, the continued use of older trains and high maintenance costs for redesign projects, DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung expects increasing utilisation of maintenance capacities, which the company would be unable to cope with using today's infrastructure. That is why additional capacities will be created for the maintenance of electrically powered trains, including ICEs, at the Cottbus maintenance depot. This vision of the future also includes constructing a new maintenance hall.
Construction of a new climate-neutral building for administration and technology
The third measure planned is to construct a climate-neutral building for administration and technology, which will also include a state-of-the-art research area. This will enable our colleagues in Cottbus to successfully manage the maintenance work which is planned and also enable experts in technology to develop future solutions for hybrid drives for rail.
What happens next?
First, parliament needs to pass the bill geared towards providing structural support for coal regions. Subsequently, once funding is secured, we plan to be laying the foundation stone by the end of 2019.
Text: Nadine Thomas