Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V. (DLR), Institut für Fahrzeugkonzepte


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Research on the Trains of the Future

The DLR-Institute of Vehicle Concepts carries out research on technologies for future railway vehicles

The DLR is the national aeronautics and space research centre of the Federal Republic of Germany. Its extensive research and development work in aeronautics, space, energy, transport and security is integrated into national and international cooperative ventures. In the transport branch, three institutes are based in Berlin-Adlershof: Transport Research, Transportation Systems and Vehicle Concepts.

The DLR-institute of Vehicle Concepts (DLR-FK) has its base in Stuttgart and a branch office in Berlin-Adlershof. The Institute's fields of endeavour address the development of future technology systems for sustainable, safe, and affordable generations of vehicles on road and rail. The institute's contributions range from conception and design through construction, calculation and simulation to the presentation of research demonstrators, components and vehicles.

The systemic evaluation of novel powertrain technologies for railways is one of the focal points of the research. In particular, electrochemical storages, fuel cells and hydrogen and the corresponding recharging and refueling technology are looked at in depth. Further research topics are the conceptualisation of dynamic coupling, novel on-board energy management systems and the layout of a flexible high-speed cargo train.

Requirement specifications, LCC and scenario techniques are elements of the technology assessment toolbox applied in the institute. Further areas of research are the simulation, design and validation of alternative drivetrain systems for railways. Test beds in Stuttgart and Berlin that are used for fuel cells and batteries enable investigations on system and component level.

The research work of the DLR-institute of Vehicle Concepts is bundled in the meta-project Next Generation Train. Projects with partners from the railway industry, railway undertakings, public authorities and other research institutions are undertaken as well.


  • Conceptualisation and assessment of railway concepts considering infrastructure, vehicle technology, and railway operations
  • Simulation and design of alternative powertrains and on-board energy management systems
  • Execution of tests on component and system level
  • LCC-analyses of sub-systems and complete rail vehicles