Archive for May 27th, 2008

DB is a bit like airlines in that they provide magazines in their trains and on the ICE they were giving away copies of some of their post name-change publicity, talking about the company and what they do in various parts of the world. The book (and it is a book) enthuses about the growing freight and passenger market, the opportunities in inter modal transport, the growth on the trans-Siberian land bridge and a lot of other things calculated, I expect, to make investors rub their hands with glee and get online (Using the new onboard W-LAN network helpfully mentioned in the book) to buy shares or pour money into their coffers. Unfortunately for DB I got there first, but it is helping me to learn a lot about the company and to keep my German up while in the UK.

One whole section is devoted to DB and the environment. In a plane this is typically where the CEO Explains the “deep Commitment” to the environment by using even bigger planes to carry more people and maybe one day start powering them with ethanol from cleared rainforest land, but DB seems to have realised that the environment is a good place for them to fight for a market.

So it was that I learned that DB set targets to reduce greenhouse emissions by 20% in 5 years, and managed it in three. You could say that it was an easy target if they did so well, so they are gutting another 10% over the next ten years. I also discovered that the refurbishment of ICE 1 saved thousands of tonnes of steel and carbon compared to building a new train, and that refurbishment is becoming a major tool in DB’s work to be a ‘green’ organisation. My favourite story is the giant washing machine in Kassel which trains go through after a million kilometres: the working parts are dismantled down to individual parts, and sent through bogies, frames and all. Then they build it like a kit and paint it up to go out again. I wonder how many bits are left on the floor when they are done.

This could be an unusual, if damp, model, with a narrow gauge train pulling bits in, bins full of dirty train standard gauge train parts being offloaded into the machine and coming out of the other side shining like new, with lots of steam all over the place.

My first reaction is to dismiss this as over-imaginative, but since we got to the UK I’ve been gathering magazines to see what is available (and to see where I can send articles about Germany, or even my own models). I’ve been discovering that the model world has changed a lot in recent years and it seems to offer ever more gasp-inducing wonderments available off-the shelf (if you have deep enough pockets). Perhaps a working, steam emitting train washer isn’t so silly after all.

Read Full Post »