Dieter John: Fast, Safe, Sustainable – Factors of Mobility


Public Transport is an essential factor in the value of business locations. And these locations would be well advised to keep their eye on tomorrow’s mobility today.

The future of modern large urban centres depends on mobility solutions. They are the key for economic vitality, flexibility and quality of life. Megatrends such as urbanisation and climate change pose challenges for these urban centres all around the world. As many as four billion people live in cities and this number will rise to more than six billion over the next 20 years. To prevent traffic grid-lock or increased en­­vi­­ron­­mental pollution, safe and intelligent mobility concepts must be developed.

Berlin is a trendsetter in many areas – including mobility. More than anything else, Germany’s capital is on the move. Statistically, every Berliner covers three transport routes per day and takes about 70 minutes to do it. At the same time, privately-owned motor cars are increasingly losing significance. There is no other major German city of over a million residents in which so few cars per resident are on the roads as Berlin. In inner-city areas especially, car-sharing is booming. There are many different reasons for the trend to doing without using one’s own car: having to find a parking-space, traffic jams on the roads, costs and exhaust emissions. Those people not wanting to put up with that are using other forms of transport: either public transport or bicycle.
Anyone in Berlin wanting to travel from A to B, always has other options. In the digital age, the right app helps compare travel-times, prices and availability of all forms of transport – cars, bicycles or public transport. These little hand-held computers are revolutionising our mobility. These days, individuality no longer means sitting in one’s own car, it means being able to choose between several forms of transport and knowing how to use the right form for the right occasion.

Solutions for the Mobility of Tomorrow


Public commuter transport is adapting to the new conditions and is continuing to develop: it is needed more than ever. Berlin has about 3.4 million residents. If this influx continues, the city will have to be able to cope with another 300,000 to 60,000 incoming commuters, the population of Stuttgart. All these people want to live, work and be mobile. So most of and the largest housing construction projects are going up in the outlying suburbs where even today, people use the S-Bahn (city ↔ regional light rail). It is foreseeable that commuter passenger numbers will continue to rise.

Berlin’s “rapid city rail” system uses a unique, tightly-knit and systematic network. The conditions for this were created 140 years ago when the dead-end railway stations were connected with the “Ringbahn” (circular railway) and the city rail system, marking the birth of the S-Bahn cross-line. Construction of a north-south tunnel in the 1930s completed the overall system. Most recently, Berlin’s transport network got a completely redesigned centre in 2006 and – for the first time – a real central railway station where long-distance and regional expresses and S-Bahn and U-Bahn (city subway) and buses intersect on several levels.

The far-sightedness of the transport planners in commuter transport is paying off up to the present day: short distances, fewer changes and higher-frequency traffic. In Berlin, 1.3 billion passengers use public transport every year – and this number is increasing.
Getting the World on Track from Berlin. As one of Europe’s major transport hubs, Berlin has an interesting railway history which has produced many innovations for public transport since the late 19th century. Bombardier Trans­­portation has played a major role in shaping public trans­­port. From trams and subways through S-Bahns to regional expresses, more than half of all rail traffic originates from Berlin-Brandenburg’s largest rail vehicle manufacturer or its predecessor. Thus, Bombardier Transportation is continuing almost 180 years of rail vehicle manufacturing history. Against this unique historic background, our aim is to shape the mobility of tomorrow. We are building the products for it – from Berlin for the entire world.

With the largest and highly innovative product range in rail vehicle technology, Bombardier Transportation is one of the market leaders. Our development and production site – the largest in Europe – is the Hennigsdorf plant north of Berlin. With over 2,900 employees, the plant is one of the biggest employers in the region. We are also proud of the fact that we can manage our global business from Berlin. Bombardier Transportation’s company headquarters has been based in Germany’s capital since 2002. Today, some 600 people from over 40 countries work in the company headquarters building, a building rich in tradition which used to belong to the former Royal Prussian Railway Department. In its immediate proximity are the head­­quarters of two of Europe’s largest transport companies consisting of Deutsche Bahn and the Berlin City Transport Company together with major component manufacturers – all start-ups providing stimuli – and numerous research centres.

Not Just Different – Smart As Well. A city is always only as good as its transport services. Berlin is pursuing the goal of becoming a climate-neutral capital city that is worth living in. On its way to becoming a “smart city”, environmentally friendly and low-noise forms of transport play a crucial role. From summer 2015, a new Bombardier innovation will be to electrify road traffic in Berlin. When it is completed, testing of the efficient, silent and environmentally friendly “wire-less” e-buses, i.e. with no catenary, will begin. The buses will be recharged by induction, i.e. without the use of cables, at the end of each run. This is an innovative feature in the inner city areas of Europe’s capitals. Berlin and Bombardier will thus be underscoring their innovative pioneering roles and adding a further chapter to their joint success stories and long-standing partnership.

Dieter_John09Dieter John
The author has a master’s-level degree in business management and several other degrees. He has been President for the regions Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia and the Community of Independent States (CIS) at Bombardier Transportation since July 2014. He is also chairman of the executive board of Bombardier Transportation GmbH.