FRENCH National Railways (SNCF) and German Rail (DB) have signed a new digital cooperation agreement expanding on their existing partnership. 

The agreement was signed by SNCF president, Mr Jean-Pierre Farandou and DB CEO Dr Richard Lutz, alongside Mr Pierre Izard, SNCF’s general manager for technologies and innovation, and Professor Dr Sabina Jeschke, DB’s board member for digitisation and technology. 

Under the agreement, the two railways will pool their technical knowledge to accelerate progress in key areas, including the development of:  

  • digital freight technology for cross-border services
  • Building Information Modelling (BIM) and digital twins 
  • improvements to passenger service apps 
  • alternative energy sources, including biofuel, hydrogen, hybrid and battery power, and 
  • ‘green stations’ with better energy management and greater use of recycled building materials. 

The new agreement reaffirms the existing partnership between DB and SNCF, as outlined in previous technological cooperation agreements including one signed at InnoTrans in September 2016. 

Initiatives continuing under the new agreement include the development of autonomous trains, fail-safe localisation of trains, future communication systems including 5G and smart railway operation, and artificial intelligence (AI). 

It is hoped that the new agreement will reaffirm the two railways’ intention to collaborate and accelerate the integration of new solutions to meet the needs of the European Green Deal. 

“As two of Europe’s largest railway companies, SNCF and DB face similar challenges and can benefit from similar solutions,” says Lutz. “Our partnership with SNCF is highly significant in this regard: it forms the basis to unite around European standards and initiatives, as well as to collaborate closely and share ideas and experience. That is what is needed to forge ahead with building a truly European rail system.”