Telematics and Traffic Management

Fuel consumption by trucks on German autobahns
© BMWi
Fuel consumption by trucks on German autobahns

As an exporting nation and a densely populated transit country, Germany works very hard to keep the traffic moving. One method is to expand the infrastructure. Another is to use telematics, i.e. intelligent technologies and systems. German companies are some of the world's leading developers. Their products help worldwide to optimise traffic flows and avoid congestion.

In other words, the figure in stop and go traffic is more than twice the level of consumption on the open road. For this reason, congestion avoidance is one of the key ways to lastingly improve energy efficiency in transport - and not only in Germany.

In the vehicle or on the road

The technologies now in use in Germany range from navigation systems with or without dynamic congestion warnings and route planning through to electronic road control systems. The first example enables the car or truck driver to reach his destination more quickly (cutting journey times by five to ten percent) and uses correspondingly less energy. The other examples increase road capacity by between five and ten percent by means of flexible, situation-responsive traffic control. The German electrical engineering and electronics industry can supply a range of solutions here. Exchange of information from vehicle to vehicle and between vehicle and infrastructure are the key technologies for the future, and successful progress is being made on them in Germany.

Flexible control

On the railways, measures include remote control by mobile radio of marshalling yards or traffic control technology on branch lines (radio signalling). Another approach has been developed by the German telecommunications industry: flexible gap management between trains. Computer Integrated Railroading (CIR) takes calculates both the varying length of trains and their respective speeds as it stipulates the distance between trains. This means that the trains can be operated more closely together. This ensures that the trains can travel at an optimal speed and in an energy-conserving manner. Also, more or longer trains can be operated. The volume transported per train and the capacity utilisation of the infrastructure rise correspondingly.

Dynamic train control

Dynamic train control is a similarly forward-looking approach, and German traffic planners are deeply involved in its development. This technology guides trains through the system with as few conflicts and delays as possible and with optimised energy consumption. Bottlenecks in the system can be passed without unscheduled stops and at the maximum possible speed. This also increases the capacity of the rail system. The driver of the respective train is automatically given recommendations via GSM-R which help him select the most forward-looking possible driving pattern.

The European Train Control System (ETCS) will initially be introduced on selected routes around Europe. This will harmonise the many different safety technologies and make cross-border train movements possible without stops to switch locomotive. It will enhance the productivity and attractiveness of rail freight transport, and the volume of environmentally friendly transport will increase.