The site, built for the new Rhine-Ruhr-Express (RRX), will employ 75 staff to service and maintain for 32 years the 82 RRX Desiro HC EMUs which Siemens is supplying. Siemens says the digitalised and paperless site will guarantee the trains' contractually-agreed availability of more than 99%.

The five-line RRX network will introduce a consistently high-quality fast regional rail service to Germany’s most densely-populated region, with trains running at 15-minute intervals on the core Dortmund - Cologne line at a maximum speed of 160km/h.

In March 2015, Rhine-Ruhr Transport Authority (VRR), Rhineland Local Transport (NVR), Westphalia-Lippe Local Transport (NVR), North Rhineland Palatinate Regional Rail Transport (ZSPNV-Nord) and North Hessen Transport (NVV), which jointly tendered the RRX, awarded Siemens a €1.7bn contract to supply and maintain the EMUs for the network.

Siemens Mobility has laid around 5.5km of track on the site of the former Dortmund-Eving marshalling yard and built a six-track workshop building, a three-story warehouse and staff facility, a gatehouse building, outside storage areas and a train-washing facility.

Staff are provided with their work orders, along with all the information they need for repairs and maintenance, on tablets.

Predictive maintenance

While in service, the trains will generate between one and four billion data points per year, with the data continuously communicated to the depot, where it is processed.

Using algorithms, data experts at Siemens Mobility will analyse the data for each critical component on the train to detect any deviations from normal conditions in order to calculate error predictions and provide workshop technicians with recommendations for acute service or routine scheduled maintenance.

The maintenance can then be planned before the train arrives at the depot, with spare parts on hand and the employees’ work optimally coordinated to ensure that the time trains spend in the depot is as short and utilised as efficiently as possible.

The RRX workshop also has an automatic vehicle inspection system (AVI) which is being used for the first time in Germany. As the trains enter the workshop grounds, they pass the AVI facility where the wheels, axles and tread patterns of each car are automatically inspected using lasers. This data is directly entered in the data management system, evaluated and further processed. The workshop also has a 3D printer that quickly and directly makes plastic spare parts that would otherwise not be available on short notice or at low cost.

“I am especially pleased for the passengers, because today’s opening marks a further step into the future,” says VRR CEO, Mr Martin Husmann, speaking on behalf of the other transport associations participating in the RRX project. “Over the coming years, we’ll be creating a substantially improved mobility offering for the roughly 2.7 million people who use the regional rapid transit rail network every day. We expect the new facility in Dortmund will make a decisive contribution toward guaranteeing the best possible availability of the new trains.”

“With our digitalised service and maintenance, we see ourselves as a pioneer in the industry and will make certain that the RRX trains are reliably available to passengers,” says Siemens Mobility CEO, Ms Sabrina Soussan. “To ensure this, we’ve equipped the rail service centre and the trains with the latest diagnostic systems that enable us to detect faults before they can actually interfere with operations.”