/ Reading: 6 min.

16. Nov 2022
/ Germany
PERSPECTIVES from Dr. Dirk Rothenstein
Since 2021 the urban railway, called S-Bahn in German, in Stuttgart relies on a flexible rail replacement bus system operating on demand whenever modernisation work is undertaken on the main line. This is possible with on demand software powered and developed by ioki. ioki insights talked to Dr. Dirk Rothenstein, who is the chairman of the S-Bahn Stuttgart management board, about modernising the rail infrastructure, multimodal mobility in the city and the rail replacement services on demand.  

ioki insights
Modernising the rail infrastructure is an essential component on the road to a more forward-looking and sustainable mobility. What does that mean for the rail replacement service (SEV)?

Dr. Dirk Rothenstein
With the digital rail node in Stuttgart our customers profit from an improved regional and long-distance transport offer as well as from an expanded offer for the S-Bahn. Besides the digitisation of the regional rail transport, we also have to master an extensive modernisation programme for a more reliable urban railway network. This is why we already do and will be experiencing more construction work in Stuttgart. This means that we can’t use the usual range of the urban railway services. To facilitate a better offer in the long-term, passengers will have to switch to SEV on demand buses on many days. Rail replacement services gain significance in the day-to-day mobility life as we have to use buses instead of trains.

ioki insights
Germany’s first digital rail node will be developed in Germany. What does this mean for the multimodal mobility in the city and for the rail replacement service? 

Dr. Dirk Rothenstein
If we elevate the infrastructure in Stuttgart to a modern level, the comfort and service for passengers have to keep up as well. That encourages us to digitise the public transport beyond the train tracks. The digitisation of the classic rail replacement service is an important step on the road to a new and digital mobility world. From our point of view this can be seen as a great example for other regions.

ioki insights
Why did you choose rail replacement services on demand? From your point of view, what are the advantages of this digital offer? 

Dr. Dirk Rothenstein
From my perspective, “SEV On-Demand”, as we call it, is a classic win-win-win situation. With an on demand rail replacement bus the passengers are more independent from the service provision of the S-Bahn. One example: If the urban railway arrives late at the final station due to a construction site, the classic rail replacement service has already left. With “SEV On-Demand” the passengers have the certainty that the bus is waiting to bring him or her to their destination. In other words, the passengers are more flexible.

We as a company also have the advantage that we can use and plan the SEV more efficiently in terms of resources. We no longer must run a bus every 30 minutes, which may be less frequented during the night or at weekends. Instead, we can adapt the buses to the demand, and can also use smaller shuttles if needed. This way we avoid empty runs, save resources, and protect the environment. So, all sides gain from “SEV On-Demand”.

ioki insights
How was the collaboration with other transport operators and with the ministry?

Dr. Dirk Rothenstein
The first time we implemented the on-demand rail replacement service was in the context of our main line closing for construction in 2021 and we have used it again in 2022. Since then, we work with all partners regularly, for example when we use the on-demand rail replacement bus for classic construction sites.

We collaborate with ioki, DB Regio Bus, the city administration of Stuttgart, the district administration from the counties as well as with our buyer. All of this works perfectly so far. Offer and collaboration work so well that our buyer, the association region of Stuttgart, is interested in using the on-demand rail replacement bus for classic construction sites more often.

ioki insights
How can we make the rail replacement traffic more attractive for passengers?

Dr. Dirk Rothenstein
From our point of view, by creating more customer value. “SEV On-Demand” offers exactly this. Passengers can flexibly use it along the travel chain and continue with the bus at any time. We offer the on-demand rail replacement buses from one stop to another and sometimes even in a corridor along the original urban railway line. We even implement virtual stops to some extend to reduce the path to the next available stop. These are additional benefits for passengers who already have to give up traveling with the urban railway for the time being.

ioki insights
How complex is this form of rail replacement service? How can we save resources with a digital rail replacement service?

Dr. Dirk Rothenstein
Honestly, I don’t think it is that elaborate to install on-demand rail replacement services. Of course, in the beginning a lot of persuasion was needed, also with our buyer. At first the implementation was hard to imagine. However, with ioki and Mobimeo we have two strong technology partners on our side: They were able to integrate the complex on-demand system from ioki into the Stuttgart Mobility App very quickly. This is a real added value for our passengers as they can do everything in one app: inform themselves about the departure times of the S-Bahn, buy tickets or to book the on-demand bus. With DB Regio Bus we have a partner, who was not just able to offer vehicles but driving personnel as well. In that sense it has worked perfectly and now we are very happy that we can successfully provide this offer for many construction sides.

ioki insights
What is your vision for digitised (replacement) services? Do you have more “SEV On-Demand” services planned? How is the rail replacement service on demand suitable for other cases? 

Dr. Dirk Rothenstein
We currently push to implement on-demand replacement services more for classic construction sites. From our experience, this works particularly well at off-peak hours. In the upcoming years we will have to block the main line every now and then – in these times “SEV On-Demand” will come into play. Our long-term vision goes even beyond that.

We want to be able to operate emergency bus services on an ad hoc basis with on-demand replacement services in the event of disruptions. This way we can offer the passenger a quick alternative to the planned public transportation mode. To achieve this status, it is important that we get more on-demand services in the region, especially to bridge the first and last mile. We want to bundle and coordinate everything in our Stuttgart Mobility App. In this way, we can act as the leading contact for public transport in the region for customers and passengers for the purpose of multimodal mobility.

Latest article

Related articles

Perspectives from Stefan Winter

Perspectives from Stefan Winter

Stefan jumped on the ioki wagon about two years ago and has been Senior Product Manager at ioki ever since. As a trained mechanical engineer, he has also held positions in management consulting and as a product owner and product manager in industry. At ioki, he came into contact with the mobility industry for the first time and is currently dealing with the most important questions about our new product ioki Route. In this interview, he talks about his everyday life, what makes ioki Route special and what drives us at ioki. Have fun reading!

Perspectives from Mackenzie Banker

Perspectives from Mackenzie Banker

Smart mobility solutions use technology and innovation to improve mobility for everyone. Similarly, Smart Cities use innovative concepts and technological advancements to improve life in urban spaces. Both enable us to achieve the vision of more human-oriented and efficient places in cities.