The first automated Digital S-Bahn arrives at Dammtor Station , Source: Marcus Brandt/dpa

First automated digital urban train in Hamburg promises more efficient mobility in Germany

First automated digital urban train in Hamburg promises more efficient mobility in Germany

The automated Digital S-Bahn can allow trains to depart with less than 90 seconds apart

Today, the first automated Digital S-Bahn (fast urban train) premiered in Hamburg. The train was developed by Siemens and Deutsche Bahn and is part of ‘Digital Rail Germany’, a project to modernise the rail network in the country. Roland Busch, President and CEO of Siemens went so far as to call it the blueprint for the digitalisation of rail in Germany and Europe.

While this is not the first autonomous rail in the world, the Digital S-Bahn offers a new and more adaptable take on the concept. This allows the technology to be exported to a wide variety of railways, as long as they match certain technical standards.

Of rail and the future

Automated trains allow operators to run more trains on a single line because they are more efficient and can guarantee the necessary precision. Essentially, what the automated system operates is the speed, breaks, acceleration and deceleration.

This added layer of precision will allow the minimum time between trains to be shortened to less than 90 seconds, greatly increasing a line’s capacity. In addition, it will reduce consumption and operating costs.

The ‘Digital S-Bahn’ project in Hamburg costs around 60 million euros and is co-financed in equal parts by the city, Deutsche Bahn and Siemens. Initially, the digital line will run from Berliner Tor station and Bergedorf / Aumühle, but will slowly expand to cover the whole Hamburg S-Ban network. The pilot track spans 23 kilometres, however, it does not run from terminus to terminus.

For an additional layer of safety, a driver will be present on all trains, making sure everything runs smoothly and intervene in case of an emergency. Outside of the digitalised area, the trains will run as normal.

According to estimations from ‘Digital S-Bahn,’ the automated rail system can be implemented across Germany in the next 15-20 years, both in local and long-distance travel. This could give Germany a competitive edge when it comes to mobility and digitalisation.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU