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Battery-operated trains in the Lake Constance area

In the second semester, FHNW students carried out a feasibility study for the use of battery-operated trains.


The train route in front of Sipplingen on Lake Constance (source:

Trains that run on the German rail line between Radolfzell and Friedrichshafen in the Lake Constance area are currently powered by diesel. The railway line is due to be electrified in the next few years. The municipality of Sipplingen on Lake Constance would prefers to avoid  intrusive overhead lines on this route to protect the area's scenic beauty . For this reason the municipality has commissioned the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland to devise a draft concept for an alternative to overhead lines. The project tested whether battery-operated trains are technically feasible and whether they are an economically viable alternative.

The technical feasibility of battery-operated trains was examined first. The performance and energy consumption of the train was calculated using GPS data that was collected during a test run on the train route. Research showed that there are already batteries on the market that meet the requirements for train operation. The technical feasibility was therefore established. The next step involved calculating the costs of  the solution involving batteries and the solution involving overhead lines. It was then possible to compare the costs of the two systems The students came to the conclusion that it is worthwhile to use battery-operated trains on this particular route.

Project information

  • Client: The municipality of Sipplingen
  • Implementation: Andreas Fricker, Daniel Graf, Pascal Häfliger, Livia Waldburger and students taking the BSc in Energy and Environmental Technology
  • Supervision: Dipl. Ing. Klaus Eisele