Deutsche Bahn depot in Cottbus sets new standards

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Opening of ICE Maintenance Depot Deutsche Bahn depot in Cottbus sets new standards

The Lusatia region is now home to Germany’s most up-to-date rail maintenance depot for the new ICE 4 Intercity Express trains. The New Cottbus Depot is going into operation ahead of schedule, less than two years after construction started. This was the new “German pace”, said Federal Chancellor Scholz at the opening ceremony.

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Federal Chancellor Scholz gives a speech at the new DB maintenance depot for ICE express trains in Cottbus.

Federal Chancellor Scholz at the opening ceremony for the new DB maintenance depot for ICE express trains in Cottbus.

Photo: Federal Government / Steins

Walking into the hall of Deutsche Bahn’s new ICE maintenance depot in Cottbus, you cannot but be overwhelmed by the size of the train which has been lifted up for servicing. In future, the facility will be able to service 13 carriages with a total length of 374m at the same time and under one roof. This is the only ICE express train maintenance depot in Germany where that is possible.

Most up-to-date rail facility in Europe

On Thursday, the Chairman of Deutsche Bahn Richard Lutz and Deutsche Bahn’s Director of Digitalisation and Technology Daniela Gerd tom Markotten opened the New Cottbus Depot. The ceremony was attended by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the State Premier of Brandenburg Dietmar Woidke and the Federal Government Commissioner for East Germany Carsten Schneider.

Proud to work for a forward-looking employer

The staff at the new facility are proud of their new jobs. They gave the Federal Chancellor an insight into their workplace as he took a tour of the depot, showing him how to operate a rail bridge and change brake pads.

At one point the Federal Chancellor even had a go himself, when he was officially presented with a screwdriver and tightened a carriage screw. With that, the ICE depot was finally opened.

A sign of the pride felt by the people of Cottbus at this forward-looking project by Deutsche Bahn was the musical accompaniment provided by the orchestra of the Cottbus City Theatre. This was no hired band to play for the opening ceremony: the orchestra had actually proactively inquired if they could take part.

The appreciation shown for the opening of the New Cottbus Depot shows the significance of the project, both in terms of structural change for the Lusatia region and for Deutsche Bahn’s overarching “Strong Track” strategy.

In his speech at the opening ceremony DB Chairman Lutz spoke of a “beacon of progress and new departures”. Federal Chancellor Scholz said he was impressed by what had been achieved in Cottbus in such a short space of time, not least thanks to the quality of the collaboration between the Federal Government, federal states and Deutsche Bahn group.

Successful structural change

Around 125 staff work in the huge hall at the facility per shift each day, and are achieving something which is unique in Europe: maintaining the new ICE 4 express trains in their full length and in half the time. Normally maintaining these trains would take four weeks, but that can be done in two here in Cottbus. 

By the end of 2026, two maintenance halls are to be constructed in Cottbus, where the new ICE 4 Intercity Express trains can be serviced across six tracks. The completion of the New Cottbus Depot will bring with it the creation of 1,200 new high-quality jobs and training places.

Deutsche Bahn is also collaborating with the operators of the lignite mining and power stations in Lusatia, LEAG AG and Lausitz Energie Bergbau AG. Their common goal is to create new career prospects for apprentices and workers who have been affected by structural change. “Lusatia will remain an industrial region in the 21st century,” said Federal Chancellor Scholz.

As part of the “Strong Track” strategy, Deutsche Bahn is continuously expanding its ICE fleet. Around 450 ICE trains are to be in operation by the end of the decade. In 2024 alone, the number of ICE 4 express trains will rise from the current figure of just under 100 to 137 units. You can find out more about the New Cottbus Depot project on the new facility’s website.