New electronic interlocking for the Schkopau chemical site

  • Modernization of important infrastructure for the chemical site
  • Site now has one of the most modern signal boxes in Europe
  • Realization of the northern connection to the public rail network of DB Netz AG

The company Dow Olefinverbund GmbH ("Dow") has completed the modernization of the signal box at the Schkopau chemical site. This replaces the old relay interlocking dating from 1983, which had performed reliably for almost 40 years. The commissioning of the new fully electronic interlocking (ESTW) enables a modern and efficient connection of the chemical site to European freight traffic.

The demands on rail technology and the needs of traffic have increased. In the future, a total of 66 signals and 61 switches will be controlled at the click of a mouse in Schkopau. To this end, 103 kilometers of cable were laid, 10 switches modernized and the electronics completely renewed in a construction period of just one year.

In addition to Dow, which provides the majority of the transport volume, other chemical park settlers also load their products here. In total, more than 1 million metric tons of chemical products were moved over the site's rails in 2019 - and the trend is rising. In addition, there were 4 million tons of lignite for the Schkopau power plant, operated by Uniper.

"The modernization of the signal box is an important investment in the site's infrastructure and future competitiveness," explains Dow Managing Director Christoph Maier. "It will also help shift even more traffic from road to rail in the future and thus protect the environment."

Saxony-Anhalt's Transport Minister Thomas Webel underlines the importance of the investment: "Such a multi-million investment by a company in the rail infrastructure cannot be taken for granted, because operators of track systems also have to maintain the rail network themselves."

The work on the interlocking was carried out by the partners Dow, DB Netz AG and the DB Cargo subsidiary Mitteldeutsche Eisenbahn GmbH (MEG) as technical operator of the rail network. At the same time, the project also realized the important northern connection of the track facilities to the public rail network of DB Netz AG. This now provides a faster and more efficient connection to the new rail hub in Halle (Saale), which opened in 2018. From the north, the chemical site can be reached directly by rail in the future.

"DB Cargo and Dow have been partners on the railways for over 22 years. Our subsidiary MEG has transported over 167 million tons of goods for Dow during this time. With the new electronic interlocking, the important chemical site in Schkopau is now optimally connected to environmentally friendly rail," explains Dr. Sigrid Nikutta, Chairwoman of the Management Board of DB Cargo and Member of the Management Board for Freight Transport at Deutsche Bahn AG.