škoda 2024

Opening of the new ICE depot in Cottbus

posted on 12th Jan 2024 09:51

Less than 20 months after the foundation stone laying ceremony, and therefore in a very short time, Deutsche Bahn inaugurated the new hall for maintenance of ICE 4s in Cottbus on 11 January 2024 in the presence of Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Brandenburg Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke and DB CEO Richard Lutz.

The short construction period for German conditions was achieved by a combination of several measures. DB has introduced a new cooperative procedure called Partnerschaftsmodell Schiene (Partnership Model Rail) for planning and construction, which ensures faster processes, teamwork between partners and short coordination procedures. In addition, all parties worked closely together in project and construction approval. And last but not least, the working group set up at the Brandenburg Chancellery under the leadership of Regional Prime Minister Woidke and DB board member Daniela Gerd tom Markotten played an important role.

Olaf Scholz commented on the event by saying: "The new depot sets the standard for major projects throughout Germany. DB has built a complex facility here in a very short time. This is what I mean when I talk about our new Deutschland-Tempo. In addition, DB has embarked on a new working scheme - the Partnerschaftsmodell Schiene. The cooperation between DB and LEAG is also a prime example of how it should work: even if people's jobs change, good jobs in the region remain."

The aforementioned „Das neue Deutschland-Tempo“ is a concept announced by the Chancellor more than a year ago as part of the government's efforts to improve and modernise the German economy. Businesses there are complaining of a totally overburdened administration, constantly changing regulations and slow planning and approval processes, problems that are worse for them than rising energy prices, inflation, the effects of the war in Ukraine, labour shortages or the instability of supply chains.

Coincidentally, the inauguration, whose motto was "For Reliable Trains", took place exactly in the middle of the three-day strike of the DB drivers, associated with the GDL (Gewerkschaft Deutscher Lokomotivführer, the German Train Drivers' Union), which took place from Wednesday 10 to Friday 12 January as part of the "endless" disputes over wages and benefits that have been going on for several months. In addition, at the same time, the country was paralysed by a "week of protests" from Monday 8 January, with which German farmers wanted to draw attention to the government's planned cuts in the sector.

The name LEAG, mentioned in Chancellor Scholz's speech, stands for Lausitz Energie Bergbau AG, where „Bergbau“ means "mining". And coal mining is the sector that has been hit by job losses in Lausitz as a result of Germany's shift away from burning fossil fuels, so the new depot in the city of Cottbus, which is not normally served by ICE trains, will initially create 450 new highly skilled jobs, including apprenticeships. By 2026, this figure is set to rise to a total of 1,200. DB is also stepping up training for young people and plans to provide half of the jobs at the new depot in 2026 with its own apprentices.

DB has ordered 137 ICE 4 Class  412 units with the following designation:
- 37 7-car units (412 201 - 237, shortly 9201 - 9237), 
- 50 12-car units (412 001 - 050, shortly 9001 - 9050),
- 50 13-car units (412 051 - 100, shortly 9451 - 9500).

As DB is continuously expanding its fleet of high-speed trains as part of its "Starke Schiene" (Strong Railway) strategy, it is expected to have a total of around 450 ICEs of various types by the end of the decade, which also requires more maintenance capacity. In Cottbus, so-called heavy maintenance will be carried out, in which trains are partially dismantled and large components such as traction motors, bogies etc. are replaced. The whole process can be completed here in just two weeks - faster than at any other DB depot.

The almost 450 m long hall can accommodate either one 374 m long 13-car unit or two shorter seven-car units, each approximately 202 m long. As a result, trains do not have to be uncoupled as in other depots and employees can work on all cars simultaneously. The Cottbus depot is not equipped with E-Check digital maintenance systems, as these are and will be applied in depots where frequent operational inspections and maintenance of the lower grades are carried out, whereas DB says it does not make sense for maintenance of the higher grades. On the site adjacent to Cottbus main station, another maintenance hall for ICE 4, a four-track one, is already under construction and is due to be operational in 2026.

Related news