DB Engineering & Consulting is a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG, the rail, mobility and logistics company that profitably operates Germany’s railway network…

Deutsche Bahn is widely acknowledged as one of the leading transport and logistics providers across the globe. As a leading engineering and consulting company in the rail sector, DB Engineering & Consulting offers sustainable, made-to-measure mobility and transport solutions for its customers. More than 5,000 specialists and generalists from 84 nations invest their expertise to manage complex infrastructure projects and integrate all engineering disciplines and consulting services involved – in Germany as well as for example in Australia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, China, India or Brazil.

Establishment in the APAC market

In Asia Pacific (APAC), public transport has always been the main mode of transport. Usually, cities are densely populated and rail based mass transit systems are being seen as an environmentally friendly and energy efficient mode of transportation to move people from one place to another. Some regions have had MRT for some decades now – such as Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong – and a huge number of metro rail projects are currently being implemented in China, India and other countries, driving investment in rail.

DB Engineering & Consulting has already been well established in the APAC market for several decades. The company´s priority is to bring its expertise to customers’ requirements – which need different strategies for different markets along the value chain.

For a market like Australia, high-level systems engineering expertise and O&M experience are in strong demand. Here, the company provided its consulting services on the Canberra Metro Light Rail project and is currently involved in the Melbourne Metro project.

In China, where a well-established high speed network already exists, one of the main product offerings is operations and maintenance and O&M planning and strategy. DB Engineering & Consulting is providing training and is in discussions with China Railways to work on a long-term maintenance strategy. In the past, the company has also provided construction supervision services for several of China’s long distance high-speed rail projects.

In Southeast Asia, the company has been instrumental in depot designs for LTA in Singapore, and has provided work on the Kuala Lumpur–Singapore high-speed line as a specialist high-level consultant. It has been involved in projects in Taiwan for close to 50 years and was one of the primary consultants for the Taiwan High Speed Rail project, a landmark infrastructure development. Additionally, it has contributed to developing their rail network, the upgrading of the metro in Taoyuan and the construction of the new Tamsui LRT and Ankeng LRT tramlines.

The company has also taken part in rail projects in Thailand and Vietnam in the past, and will re-enter these markets again as investments grow. The plan is to establish strategic partnerships in order to bring product offerings and ensure strong delivery in different markets across APAC.

Deep dive: projects in India

Recently, there has been a slight shift of focus towards India, where rail investments are at an all-time high. DB Engineering & Consulting is engaged in general consultancy services for three major metro projects in Mumbai, Bhopal and Indore with an investment budget of over €3.5 billion

($4.1 billion). On these projects, the company provides services from tender design and bid management, project management, to supervision, operations planning as well as testing and commissioning. More than 150 experts from various disciplines engaged in these projects alone, that are overseeing the implementation of CBTC in the signaling area, AFC for fare management, property development as well as underground stations and tunnels constructed using TBM’s and different construction methodologies.

Indian metro project owners are using latest technologies on greenfield projects and DB Engineering & Consulting is able to leverage its experience to assist customers in these high expertise areas. It delivered the feasibility study of a High Speed Rail between Chennai and Mysore and is the project manager for a 175-kilometre heavy haul (32.5 ton axle load) freight corridor in India, for both civil and systems works. This freight corridor will use overhead

2 x 25 KV traction, operating freight trains at 100 kph, automatic block signaling, modern telecommunication, train radio and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) control systems.

What the future holds: prospects and opportunities

Keeping environmental considerations in mind, many countries in APAC are focusing on long distance rail in terms of upgrading their existing infrastructure or building new lines.

There is also a push for electrification of railway lines and moving to higher speeds and away from fossil fuel based modes of transport, especially for shorter distances. Therefore, DB Engineering & Consulting sees a demand for highlevel railway expertise and technology. At the same time, the company is committed to providing a wide portfolio of products.

The products that are in demand in APAC are clearly dependent on the respective market, the level of technology deployment and the customer‘s budget. For design engineering, a higher reliance on automation and AI are expected in the future. Digital operations of railways, predictive maintenance and asset management will be significant products for transport infrastructure companies, who will look at operations that are more efficient.

DB Engineering & Consulting also sees a requirement for improvement of signaling technologies, similar to ETCS Level 2 or higher, as well as driverless trains etc. It predicts that traditional engineering will merge with IT and IOT and the cost effective and efficient delivery of railway projects will increasingly rely on BIM, GIS, machine learning and similar tools.

Furthermore, it is expected that APAC will see a mobility of staff across the region. The APAC region is generally known for its excellent education and qualified engineers. Countries with a significant number of English speaking engineers will see a large benefit in this area. There will be a high demand for staff in metro, railways and high-speed rail in the years to come especially in the areas of track work, systems engineering, rolling stock as well as operations and maintenance.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the industry, an upward trend is expected for APAC, which means a strong market for engineering and consulting services.

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