The Green Transformation

Deutsche Bahn's Green Transformation

As one of Europe's largest transport infrastructure operators, we take responsibility for the environment because we want to leave future generations with a healthy planet to live o.

We are feeling the effects of climate change in our core business. For this reason – and in view of our responsibility for our planet and future generations – we aim to be one of the most environmentally-friendly mobility companies in Germany.

We are strengthening the rail system in Germany – for the climate, for people, for the economy, and for Europe. This goal is embedded in our Strong Rail corporate strategy, and we are putting it into practice via our Green Transformation.  We know that there is only one way to achieve climate targets in Germany and Europe: By successfully transferring a massive volume of traffic to green rail services. As an international provider of mobility and logistics services, we are a key player in the shift to new forms of mobility.

We have developed the Green Transformation as a way of meeting our ecological responsibility. It will not only help us make our entire range of products and services more environmentally friendly, but also the way we work. The Green Transformation is a process that we approach holistically across the four fields of environmental action: Climate protection, nature conservation, resource protection, and noise protection. In so doing, we are also facing up to our social responsibility, which concerns the entire Group.

We have committed to an ambitious climate protection target: Being climate neutral by 2040.

In order to achieve this target, we are relying on three powerful levers: expanding green electricity, phasing out diesel, and embarking on the heat transition.

To this end, our depots, office buildings and stations in Germany will be powered entirely with green electricity from 2025, and we will also convert our DB traction current to 100 % green electricity by 2038. Increased energy efficiency also helps to reduce consumption.

As we move toward a climate-neutral Deutsche Bahn, we no longer want to use fossil fuels. Today, around 90 % of our passenger and freight traffic is powered with electricity, which is in turn predominantly green electricity. We are also focusing on an approach that includes being open to new technologies, using alternative drives and fuels.

As we move closer to a climate-neutral Deutsche Bahn, we no longer want to use fossil fuels for heating.

The protection of biodiversity and natural habitats is another important task that we fulfill, in particular in the operation and further development of our infrastructure. We know that more rail traffic means our infrastructure also has to grow.

When carrying out work on our railway facilities, we take care not to injure animals or damage plants. We temporarily relocate them for their own protection. Whenever we do have to disturb the environment, we will offset this elsewhere.

Since 2010, we have already been able to implement a total of around 53,000 separate nature and species conservation measures.

To preserve our ecosystem for future generations, we must use our natural resources as sparingly as possible. This is why we have set ourselves an ambitious target for protecting resources:

We are striving to achieve a complete circular economy throughout DB Group by 2040, with a special focus on the Integrated Rail System. To achieve this, we are taking a holistic approach to resource protection. In doing so, we are relying on various levers.

In the coming years, we will significantly increase the recycled content of the rail steel, track ballast and concrete ties we use. This is because we need large quantities of these three resources, in particular in order to maintain and expand our infrastructure. Another lever is the way in which we handle materials that have already been used. We will continue to keep our minimum recycling rate at a high level of 95 % in the future.

Moving forward, we will take even greater care to ensure that resources are used sparingly in new vehicles. To this end, we will only purchase vehicles that have been manufactured in a resource-saving manner and where efforts have been made to use recycled, recyclable and renewable resources.

We keep our existing fleet fit for purpose through redesigns and technological overhauls. 3D printing is just one of the tools we use to ensure targeted manufacture of spare and non-deliverable parts for train operation.

We put people at the center of our noise control activities. Strong Rail means more trains, but this will only work if the people who live next to railway lines are willing to accept increased rail traffic.

We have worked with the Federal Government to set out noise control targets for 2030/2050 in which we commit ourselves to reducing noise pollution for half of affected residents by 2030. By 2050, we will have reduced the noise pollution caused by rail transport for all currently affected residents – more than 1.6 million people.

Our 2030/2050 noise control target is based on the success of the 2020 noise control target. By completely upgrading all DB Cargo freight cars and implementing noise control measures on more than 2,000 kilometers of rail lines, we were able to cut rail noise by half compared to the levels in 2000.

At Deutsche Bahn, we have been practicing corporate social responsibility for a long time and across all divisions; this includes our role as a fair employer, sustainable and transparent supply chains, the protection and promotion of human rights, taking on corporate digital responsibility and handling our historical responsibility with a special culture of remembrance. The DB Group partners with the independent Deutsche Bahn Foundation and the BSW & EWH Foundation Family to support this multifaceted social engagement.

Our key stakeholders are at the heart of our social responsibility. We have a special bond with them, be they our employees, customers and business partners or society as a whole.

Four standpoints shape our actions and provide orientation for us and our stakeholders. They line up with our fundamental convictions and our social value compass at Deutsche Bahn:

We strengthen community

We support social engagement

We promote diversity

We take responsibility for our history

This provides us with clear guidance for our social responsibility and allows us to take a systematic approach. We derive our specific actions from these four standpoints. The four standpoints thus include more than 20 key focus areas with many individual activities and initiatives. 

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