Strong Rail

Implementing Strong Rail

We have set ourselves the goal of harmonizing the economic, social and environmental factors with our business goals. Sustainability is anchored in our guiding principles and an integral part of our DNA. In response to the rapidly changing environmental, social and political framework as well as internal challenges, we have formulated a new structural aspiration – our inner ambition – with the Strong Rail strategy at its heart. With the Strong Rail strategy, we expressly acknowledge our social responsibility and define our concrete contribution to achieving the Federal Government’s central transport and climate policy objectives. We are also concentrating more on the core business of the railway in Germany to address the internal challenges and growing expectations of all stakeholders, from customers to politics to the citizens in Germany, with regard to the particular responsibility of DB Group. In order to live up to this responsibility, we will measure everything we do at DB Group on the value of its contri­bution to a strong rail system. This also includes our subsidiaries. Subsidiaries with strategic significance for Strong Rail, such as DB Schenker, will continue to be held as financial investments. Joint operational initiatives will focus on achieving synergies within the integrated network. Subsidiaries without strategic relevance for the Strong Rail will be placed under scrutiny.

With the Strong Rail strategy, we have set the course for a shift in the mode of transport and are creating additional capacity, increasing product quality and improving customer satisfaction. Our strategy is a framework with which we both continuously create the internal prerequisites for shifting traffic to the rails and ensure sustainable alignment with the Green Transformation of DB Group. In order to create the necessary conditions for the shift in the mode of transport, we have identified three strategic areas within the Strong Rail framework:

  • More robust: We are committed to the extensive expansion of performance-critical capacities. With a long-term focus on growth and technological innovations, we are creating the necessary capacities in infrastructure, vehicles and personnel. Among other things, together with the Federal Government, we are investing billions in the expansion and construction of lines and hubs, additional terminals for freight transport and the purchase of new vehicles. We achieve more capacity through the digital­ization of rail operations, better capacity management and extensive and sustainable measures in recruiting and qualification. More trains, more train-paths and more employees will enable us to transport more people and goods while offering a higher quality of service.
  • More powerful: In order to be able to achieve a high and sus­tainable performance level in the long term, we will also carry out structural changes. We are simplifying the orga­nization and aligning it systematically with the com­­-
    mon goal of Strong Rail. In order to be more customer-centric and respond more quickly to employees, we rely on a strong line organization and functional organization, the in­­troduction of customer-oriented collaborative processes to improve cross-business unit cooperation, and an engaging process philosophy with common standards and methods. With simple processes and clear responsibilities, we achieve greater implementation discipline and speed.
  • More modern: We will increase the pace of innovation for our customers. By expanding our activities in the area of new mobility, we provide our customers with an integrated offer that almost extends the rail line right up to their doorstep and complements local public transport in a meaningful way. By using digital technologies, we will also facilitate the effortless switch between the different means of transport. The integration of new and innovative forms of mobility and the use of smart services and digi­tal platforms create clear added value for our customers. In this way, we take into account rising customer expectations and create an attractive offer for sustainable mobility and logistics, both in cities and rural areas.

The building blocks of the Strong Rail strategy

By "click" you get further information about the individual building blocks.

Building blocks for organizing
the shift in the mode of transport
More robust.
Rail for
4Fleet and
More powerful.
line orga-
1015 employee
More modern.
in sync
12Focus on
14New forms
of mobility
Building block
of the Green Transformation
ment and
100% green


1 - Infrastructure update

  • Carrying out the planned infrastructure construction projects and upgrades as quickly and consistently as possible.
  • Additional, smaller-scale infrastructure projects will make us more robust in areas where capacity is tight.
  • This will eliminate bottlenecks and expand capacity.

2 - Digital Rail for Germany

  • Using technological innovation to make the infrastructure more state-of-the-art and thus raise its capacity.
  • Digital Rail for Germany enables us to further expand capacity, cut down on congestion and lay the structural foundation for digital rail operations.
  • Rolling out ETCS and digital signaling across the board, increasing service frequency and reducing disruptions while maintaining the same high safety standards.

3 - Network capacity management

  • Capacity-friendly construction will lower the amount of capacity restricted by construction work.
  • Using capacity-friendly operations to align the timetable more closely with capacity. Dovetail train speed profiles to enable more trains to run at once.
  • PlanKorridor and PlanStart projects will serve as the first step in optimizing capacity use on bottleneck lines and nodes in our network.

4 - Fleet and depot expansion

  • The capacity of our fleet will be expanded by modernizing the existing rail vehicles and investing in new ones.
  • Expanding maintenance capacity by expanding capacity at our depots.
  • Using sensor technology, AI-based processes and 3D printing technology to make maintenance more efficient.

5 - 100,000 employees

  • In the coming years, at least 100,000 new employees will be hired across all our business segments.
  • To this end, introducing a dynamic end-to-end process to determine actual staffing needs, carry out an extensive employer branding campaign and redesign the work of the future.
  • This will boost DB’s appeal as an employer and will prevent staff shortages, particularly in professions critical to operations.

6 - Strong line organization

  • Aligning our organization to a single system of targets. DB will resolve conflicts between targets and delineate responsibility more clearly.
  • Making the organizational structure more effective by reducing the number of management levels, eliminating duplicate structures and streamlining our committee structure.
  • The number of projects will be limited and will direct their focus on a strong rail system.

7 - Integrated accountability

  • Clearly assigning integrated process owners for processes that affect multiple business units.
  • These integrated process owners will be responsible for aligning their processes to customer needs. They will also be responsible for process output and continuous improvement.
  • Integrated process owners will be part of the line organization and will report directly to the Management Board.

8 - Strong admin

  • Strong functions at our Finance, HR and Digitalization divisions will set standards and utilize economies of scale by consolidating resources and expertise.
  • They will establish binding quality requirements at key interfaces, will have the right to veto plans that do not meet these requirements, and will report directly to the Management Board.
  • They will be the functional managers of their counterparts at the business units and will have a clear understanding of their responsibilities.

9 - Stable processes

  • The DB Excellence System enables DB to establish a common language and a uniform set of methods and tools to design and improve processes.
  • This set of methods will be used to optimize and standardize all of the 21 core processes we use in rail operations in Germany.
  • Establishing the necessary expertise both centrally and locally and will provide it to the administrative departments and the business to assist them in the establishment phase.

10 - 15 employee building blocks

  • Including the employees in the transformation, and they will develop and design their own building blocks.
  • Identifying 15 employee building blocks that will mobilize our employees and enable them to successfully implement the 15 strategy building blocks.
  • The employee building blocks will be developed in employee forums, activities and the like – and the Management Board will ensure their implementation.

11 - Germany in sync

  • Regional and local transport, and rail and bus transport, will be dovetailed throughout Germany.
  • This will cut travel times and improve the travel experience.
  • Offering twice-hourly service on all the major domestic lines in Germany, and offering hourly service at a minimum to and from major European cities.

12 - Focus on growth segments

  • Strong intermodal transport – enabling access to the rail network for as many customers as possible with an integrated range of products and services in intermodal transport at all stages in the value chain.
  • Strong block train service – with regular scheduled and special trains tailored to meet customer requirements and win back market share for rail.
  • Strong single car service – offering better single freight car transport to appeal to growth sectors.

13 - Digital platforms

  • Both existing platforms and new ones will be expanded to integrate our own products and those of third parties.
  • To this end, DB will develop tailored solutions for rail freight transport and passenger transport.
  • Furthermore, the range of digital channels will be expanded, and digital platforms will be developed with increasing functionality.

14 - New forms of mobility

  • We will expand our core product – transport by rail – by adding new and innovative forms of mobility.
  • In this way we will enable seamless, end-to-end transport and travel chains for our customers.
  • In rural areas and suburbs, the focus is on closing mobility gaps and expanding the public offering.
  • The goal is to develop integrated transport concepts – including new forms of mobility.

15 - Smart services

  • We will improve passenger information and other services to optimize the long-distance travel experience, give passengers more control over how they travel and offer more personalized services.
  • We will work with the industry to offer innovative regional and local products, such as WiFi and innovative ways of using space on trains.
  • We will offer new rail freight services, including by improving supply chain solutions.

15+1 - Environment and 100% green electricity

  • Our traction current mix is supplied 100% by renewable energy sources, an expansion of the energy infrastructure created the condition for this.
  • Alternative drives and energy sources as well as the expansion of electrification are replacing fossil fuels on rail.
  • For us, sustainability is more than climate protection and is consistently continued in nature resources and noise protection.

We have identified five central topics for each of the three stra­­tegic areas, which we call building blocks. The key criterion for selecting the building blocks is their importance across business units for our goal of a strong rail system in Germany and therefore also for the Federal Government’s transport and climate policy goals. This has resulted in a to­tal of 15 building blocks to help us to organize the shift in the mode of transport. They are supplemented by build­­ing blocks specific to each business unit.

However, the shift in the mode of transport to rail can only achieve its full potential if the railway also continues to strengthen and expand its climate-friendly operations and other environmentally friendly advantages. DB Group’s Green Transformation is therefore a central requirement for the effectiveness of the shift in the mode of transport. To live up to the importance of this topic, we have defined another overarching building block through which we aim to ensure the effectiveness of the shift in the mode of transport. Together, these 15 +1 building blocks form the strategic framework of our business alignment.

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