Expansion of the German Rail Freight Network

Planning the Expansion of the German Rail Freight Network


In recent years, rail freight traffic in Germany has attained a significant growth. In contrast, the expansion of the available transportation capacities in the German railway network has always dragged behind this development. The short term drop in demand due to the economic crisis offers the opportunity to make up for this deficit. The goal is to prepare the railway network for the demand growth forecasted for the upcoming years. Recent studies predict annual growth rates of 5% within the next 15 years, which would result in a freight traffic more than twice as high as nowadays. This requires extensive investments in the construction of new tracks and the expansion of existing ones.

This expected development gave rise to a cooperation with Deutsche Bahn AG in which we developed planning models for the optimal investment of their annual budget in the railway infrastructure.

We examined the optimal extension of the network capacity under different demand scenarios on the basis of internal demand estimations for 2030 by Deutsche Bahn AG. Our model includes the financing as well as the scheduling of the measures. This contains the very important aspect of evaluation the measures by their profitability for the railway undertakings. Furthermore, special attention is paid on the elimination of existing and expected bottlenecks in the railway network such as the track Hamburg – Hannover. This also supports the ecological policy of shifting freight traffic from truck to track. By increasing the quality of the transport service with respect to transport time and transport cost the according incentive shall be offered.

This project was conducted using the data provided by Deutsche Bahn AG. The underlying problem was modelled using discrete mathematical programming and specialized solution algorithms were developed. They were implemented in a prototype planning tool which Deutsche Bahn AG can now integrate into their own planning software architecture. The planning tool is based on a list of available measures for the railway network, which it evaluates and chooses the most profitable ones. Its output includes a detailed yearly schedule for their implementation. It is expected that this tool will enhance the process of infrastructure planning in the future.

Partners / Sponsors

Zuse-Institut Berlin
TU Braunschweig
TU Chemnitz
TU Dortmund
Deutsche Bahn AG, GSV
This project was sponsored by BMBF (German Ministry of Education and Research).


For further details on this project, please contact Andreas Bärmann (Andreas.Baermann[at]