The unreliable WLAN on board Deutsche Bahn trains is probably the epitome of lame digitization in Germany. However, the company now apparently wants to tackle this problem. For example, wireless Internet should be working smoothly on all trains as early as 2026.
Deutsche Bahn: More importance in the mobility turnaround
Since buying one’s own car is likely to be financially impossible for many people in the future, Deutsche Bahn is becoming increasingly important. The popularity of the public company’s trains can be seen in the high demand for the nine-euro ticket. But unlike many rail networks in our neighboring countries, Deutsche Bahn still suffers from massive problems in the area of digitization. These not only lead to frequent delays. The comfort on board the trains also suffers massively. Business travelers in particular are nowadays dependent on a stable Internet connection. But this is often in vain.
Daniela Gerd tom Markotten also knows about the problem. She is an executive at Deutsche Bahn and an expert in digital and technology. In an interview with Die Zeit, she made clear what roadmap the company will be facing in the coming months and years. In this context, problem number one from the point of view of the board member seems to be quite clearly the many delays. According to her statement, 60 percent of the trains used for long-distance routes are expected to arrive late in July 2022. She attributes this to the inadequate infrastructure, which she herself describes as “old and prone to breakdowns.” To solve this problem, it wants to create a high-performance network.
Artificial intelligence as a solution to the problem
Now it doesn’t seem to be necessarily the renewal of tracks and stations that Daniela Gerd tom Markotten is focusing on. Instead, the latest AI is to help ensure better route planning. According to her, this model has already been tried out on a small scale. For example, S-Bahn networks are increasingly relying on AI. This results in fewer delays. In view of the ambitious goals Deutsche Bahn has set itself, the use of AI is entirely appropriate. After all, the public company expects passenger numbers to double as early as 2030. Of course, more passengers also lead to greater wear and tear on the trains. AI will also be used to detect broken components earlier rather than later. In combination with special sensors and targeted cameras, these should order repairs at an early stage. In this way, long train failures can be prevented.
Reliable WLAN soon?
The only remaining problem is the unreliable WLAN on board the trains. But this, too, is something the company would like to tackle in a targeted manner. The company is hoping for support from the mobile communications providers operating in Germany. After all, they are the prerequisite for WLAN being available on Deutsche Bahn trains in the first place. But here, too, there seems to be some progress. For example, the executive states that Telekom and Vodafone want to create a seamless network by 2026. But Deutsche Bahn itself does not want to remain idle either. Apparently, it wants to buy frequency ranges that will become free at the coming turn of the year. This would allow Deutsche Bahn guests to enjoy their exclusive, undisturbed Internet, so to speak. Since train traffic will become increasingly important in the coming years, the improvements are right and important. But what about alternative drive technologies for trains? Here, too, things are happening. For example, a hydrogen-powered train fleet is already operating in Lower Saxony. And there are other examples. In Schleswig-Holstein, on the other hand, battery-powered trains are running in local transport.