Impact of Digitalization on Railroad Operations

Key Info

Basic Information

01.02.2018 to 31.12.2018
Research Area:
Integrated Research for Work Innovations



Christopher Brandl

Chief Engineer


+49 241 80 99474




As a rule, the actions of locomotive engineers are not only derived from timetables; in the case of unscheduled events, rapid intervention is imperative. In addition, train formation, the testing of technical functions and the operation of passenger trains require shunting, service and escort personnel. Before the start of the project, communication was still very much analog, resulting in long waiting times and low flexibility.


The project "Auswirkungen der Digitalisierung auf den Eisenbahnbetrieb” (Impact of digitalization on railroad operations) aimed to investigate the extent to which the activities of operations officers can be supported by digital tools. One focus of the work of the IAW – Institut für Arbeitswissenschaft (Institute of Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics) at RWTH Aachen University was to examine the effects of the introduction of digital technologies on the work of operations officers. This included an analysis of the changes in the job profile of train drivers as well as an analysis of the possible effects for train drivers when using digitized work tools.


In the project, a literature research was first conducted on the research subject, in particular on digitization options in the transport sector and other industries, as well as on research projects relating to the digitization of operational processes. Furthermore, the relevant operational processes in the railroad sector were considered. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with vehicle operators, with a particular focus on the advantages and disadvantages of the use of digital work and tools. Based on this, the effects on the operations officers were considered and from this, it was possible to develop proposals for adjustments.


The main project results were documented and published in the final report Auswirkungen der Digitalisierung auf den Eisenbahnbetrieb (Impact of digitalization on railroad operations).

Project Partner

Institute of Transport Science RWTH Aachen University, Aachen

Logo Eisenbahn-Bundesamt