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Research into Digital Railway Technology Planned in the Erzgebirge

Chemnitz University of Technology and Deutsche Bahn AG want to use federal funding to test technologies for the digitalisation and automation of rail traffic under real conditions

Original report by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure from 31 July 2020 entitled "Research of digital railway technology in the Erzgebirge planned" with a supplement called "Background: Smart Rail Connectivity Campus (SRCC)" by Chemnitz University of Technology.

In the future, Chemnitz University of Technology and Deutsche Bahn AG intend to use federal funding to test technologies for the digitalisation and automation of rail transport under real conditions. The "Digital Test Field Railway" is to be built along the line operated by the Erzgebirgsbahn between Annaberg-Buchholz and Schwarzenberg.

Federal Minister Andreas Scheuer: "We want to convince people further and more strongly about using rail travel. This can only be achieved with more digitalisation - on the train and on the railroad itself. We want to research and test these technologies in the Erzgebirge: from digital control and security technology to measures for better reception.”

Minister President Michael Kretschmer: "I am delighted about the commitment and support of the Federal Government for this unique and ambitious project. Here in Annaberg-Buchholz, the focus is on practical research into the mobility and rail travel of the future. The joint commitment of all those involved not only strengthens Germany as a location for innovation, it also brings the Erzgebirge economic region and the whole of Saxony further forward." Kretschmer pointed out that the state government has long been committed to the research project. In this context he announced that the Free State will finance the position of a coordinator who will support Chemnitz University of Technology in the planning, management and implementation of the local research infrastructure.

DB Infrastructure Director Ronald Pofalla: "The digital future of the railways has already begun in the Erzgebirge. Since 2018, Europe's first digital signal box in Annaberg-Buchholz has been reliably controlling operations. We are now expanding the test field and working very intensively on the use of the 5G mobile communications standard for railway operations.”

Rolf Schmidt, Lord Mayor of Annaberg-Buchholz: "We are very pleased that the Federal Government and the State of Saxony are supporting the joint idea of the city of Annaberg-Buchholz and Chemnitz University of Technology for research in rural areas. The campus project is intended to develop both our town of Annaberg-Buchholz and the Erzgebirge into a leading location for research into new railway technologies. This project will be an effective impulse for the implementation of a sustainable structural change in our region."

Prof. Dr. Gerd Strohmeier, President of Chemnitz University of Technology: "We are extremely pleased to be able to carry out top-level research for the highly automated and sustainable rail transport of the future with the support of the Federal Government and the Free State and in close cooperation with the city of Annaberg-Buchholz on a unique test track in the Erzgebirge.”

In order to establish a corresponding research platform, the Federal Government is providing funds of up to 15 million euros for construction and acquisition measures after examining the budgetary and subsidy law constraints. These measures are essentially:

  • Construction of 5G radio masts, supplying media and other field elements along the Annaberg-Buchholz - Schwarzenberg railway line
  • Modernisation and expansion of existing buildings along the route with work and operating rooms with state-of-the-art technology
  • Purchase and conversion of traction units as test trains

Background: Smart Rail Connectivity Campus (SRCC)

The SRCC (german article) focuses on the development of a research campus in Annaberg-Buchholz. In this model project, which is unique in Europe, highly automated driving on standard gauge railway tracks and ecological driving, especially with hybrid drives, will be further researched and innovative mobility technologies will be brought to approval and market introduction.

The SRCC is one of two joint projects with which Chemnitz University of Technology was successful in 2019 within the highly competitive programme "WIR! – Wandel durch Innovation in der Region (Change through Innovation in the Region)” by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). In addition to the SRCC, the university and its project partners received funding for the "Smart Composites ERZgebirge" (SmartERZ) project.

For further information please contact:

Tim Alexandria
Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure
Phone: +49 030/18300-7138

Ralph Schreiber
Government spokesperson
Saxon State Chancellery
Phone: +49 0351/564-10300

Prof. Dr. Uwe Götze

Vice President for Transfer and Academic Qualification

Chemnitz University of Technology


Phone: +49 0371/531-10030


(Author: Matthias Fejes / Translation: Chelsea Burris)

Matthias Fejes

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