IAA Voices Conference Special: Interview DB Cargo

DB Cargo AG is the freight transport division of Deutsche Bahn and Europe's leading freight railway. More than 30,000 employees transport around 20,000 trains a week through 18 countries in Europe plus China. The annual operating performance replaces up to 22 million truck journeys. Thus DB Cargo already saves the environment seven million tonnes of CO2 a year with its goods trains a year.

Around 60 per cent of rail transport crosses at least one national border and is thus carried out within Europe. DB Cargo has the highest transport performance and the highest number of customer connections, around 4,200. With around 78,000 freight wagons and 2,700 locomotives, DB Cargo has the largest rail fleet in Europe.

Dr. Sigrid Nikutta, Member of the Management Board of Deutsche Bahn and CEO of DB Cargo AG

Imagine yourself in a time machine on your way "back to the future". In which year would you like to get off and why?

I like to live in the here and now - because we have to change something NOW to stop climate change. There is no way around it! And we can achieve it by shifting freight to rail and combining rail and road intelligently. Every goods train saves our climate 80 - 100% CO2 compared to road transport. Because one goods train replaces up to 52 lorries. This change needs the commitment! In a time machine I would get out a few years ago to wake people up with the knowledge of today and to set the course for more climate-neutral much earlier. For a long time, the environment and economic costs played no role. Today the question is: How can we act in a more environmentally friendly way? Because we all pay the high price, especially future generations and the environment.

If you had one superpower that would help you professionally, what would it be? that?

Why would you have it? All of us together already have a superpower. Even today lorries can change to a train in a few seconds. We bring together the best of both worlds together. The climate friendliness and efficiency of the long-distance goods train, the flexibility of the truck for the distribution of goods over the last mile. That's what we're promoting - and in our advertising clip "Flying Trucks" we even make lorries float. With our superpower ....

What trend are you currently following professionally with great interest?

Germany has a goal: climate neutrality by 2045! I follow all developments that contribute to achieving this goal with great interest. The strengthening of rail freight transport is clearly one of them! We are digitalising our processes, e.g. with autonomous vehicles in container handling. In this way, road and rail more efficiently. The drive turnaround is also part of this: 90% of rail freight transport is already electric, and we are converting the remaining 10% of shunting and port to environmentally friendly drive systems. We are expanding the use of HVO and will also use hydrogen in the future.

What is/was the biggest game changer for you in the logistics or transport industry over the past ten years? Which innovation do you currently see as an international as a blueprint on the way to climate neutrality?

The gamechanger at DB Cargo is definitely the Digital Automatic Coupling (DAK)! Currently, goods trains are coupled by hand - that's hard work and takes longer. With the DAK, power, air and data lines can be connected automatically. The saves time and makes the work of our employees easier - a revolution in rail freight transport! We do this because we have a common goal: More goods by rail - less CO2 emissions in logistics.

What are your hopes for the IAA TRANSPORTATION? What are you particularly looking forward to at the IAA Conference in particular?

The IAA Transportation is a leading trade fair for technical change in the logistics industry. I took a ride in an autonomously controlled truck this spring. That was ingenious and I learned a lot. For me it is clear that we will only be able to meet the challenges of climate change if all climate change only if all players in land transport combine their innovative strength. For this, the trade fair is the ideal place for exchange and discussion.