German Centre for Rail Traffic Research at the Federal Railway Authority

Use of cookies

Cookies help us to provide our services. By using our website you agree that we can use cookies. Read more about our Privacy Policy and visit the following link: Privacy Statement


Topic: topics


The railway is the safest means of transport on land; however, safety is not a static achievement.
Against the backdrop of changing technical, legal, and social basic conditions, existing requirements and measures have to be constantly optimized. For example, the increased usage of digital technologies may bring about great opportunities, but at the same time creates safety-relevant issues for the railway system. The goal is to keep and extend the high safety level between the priorities of safety, economic efficiency, and system stability.

Signal-controlled train operation in Cologne Central Station

People are the central element in the rail system being not only this system’s users, but also its components. Because of the demographic change and digitization, necessary changes for railway operation emerge that always have to be oriented towards people. This applies to the adaptation of workplaces and the integration of operating personnel into the system. Risks have to be reduced so that the positive effects of the changes can come to fruition.

The safety requirements for innovations and new technologies have to be evaluated and defined. It is possible that the need for changes in legal and secondary regulations will arise therefrom. In fact, safety issues that are not considered when developing new systems might later delay or prevent the implementation into practice.

All documents on technical regulations for the railway sector are updated on a regular basis in order to constantly meet the current requirements. In this context, it can also be helpful to review the regulations through scientific methods.

The railway system is a critical infrastructure. If it fails or is impaired, lasting supply shortages, considerable disruption to public safety, or other consequences can emerge. Protecting critical infrastructures is a core task of state safety precautions and an important component of safety policy. The current development in the field of security and cybersecurity as well as the experiences of other European member states show that the subsystems of railway infrastructure have to be subjected to a systematic analysis that forms the basis for identifying potential dangers and vulnerability of critical infrastructures in order to limit the risks through adequate protective measures.