Deutsche Bahn is expanding the use of artificial intelligence for smoother processes and more punctual trains to the S-Bahn in Berlin and Hamburg.
A tool developed by Deutsche Bahn is already being used in Stuttgart, in the Rhine-Main area and in Munich. "Last year, a total of 58,000 minutes of delay could be avoided there," the group said. In the second half of 2023, the application will now also be used in Berlin, and then in Hamburg next year.
AI simulates the development of the traffic situation
The dispatchers in the control centers can use the algorithms to decide more quickly which trains should enter the station first and when. In Stuttgart, for example, delays of up to eight minutes could be compensated for in this way. The AI also continuously simulates the development of the traffic situation on the basis of live operation and reports conflicts at an early stage. "This is how we are working our way step by step towards the nationwide real-time timetable," said Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, DB Board Member for Digitization and Technology.
The AI application can help, for example, when two trains arrive at a single-track section almost simultaneously due to delays. Taking into account the near future and all trains in the network, the AI then calculates in fractions of a second which train should travel the section first - always with the proviso that it has the least impact on punctuality.
Like some kind of brain
The long-term goal is a real-time timetable, which, like a kind of brain, is to become the digital control center of German rail traffic, the group said. "With the help of the AI, all delays caused by disruptions, construction sites or other incidents could then flow directly into the traffic control system. Internal processes are therefore accelerated and made more efficient by the enormous computing power of the AI," it said.
The application is currently being tested on the route between Elmshorn and Sylt. "In this section, the AI operates for the first time outside of a closed S-Bahn system and has to deal with mixed traffic, i.e. freight, local and long-distance trains," said the railway. "If these tests are successful, the next step is to use the system on the heavily used route between Mannheim and Basel."