Elaboration of a feasibility study for a “Digital Rail Innovation Cluster – a contribution to structural change in the regions affected by the fossil fuel phase out”

Portfolio Description

The Project

Considering the challenges of climate change, Germany has set ambitious and necessary objectives to reduce CO2 emissions. Due to the related coal phase out, the brown-coal regions are facing a structural change, especially the three larger regions “Lausitzer Revier”, “Mitteldeutsches Revier” and “Rheinisches Revier”. Unemployment, emigration and hence a lower competitiveness of the regions are possible consequences. Based on that, the project “Digital Rail Innovation Cluster” focuses on the digitalization of the rail sector in the brown-coal regions, which are affected by the structural change due to the fossil fuel phase out.

In total the project consists of three complementary working packages. The first working package was dedicated to an analysis of technological and digital trends as well as the development of a target vision for “Digital Rail 2030”. Building upon this, working package two includes an inventory of the regional rail sector as well as the development of a potential analysis for regional innovation systems. Within this, a strong collaboration with state representatives and regional actors of the brown-coal regions is foreseen. In the third working package, atene KOM GmbH is in charge of developing a future-proof cluster concept for the three coal regions in the field of digitalization of the rail sector. The cluster will address all relevant aspects to help adapt to structural change. Hereby, regional specificities and expectations of the regions are considered.


The main goal of this project initiated by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is to investigate the potentials and possible approaches for a “Digital Rail” innovation cluster in brown-coal regions as well as to formulate concrete proposals for the establishment of a cluster management organization in the field of digitalization of the rail sector.
The project aims to increase and strengthen innovation and competitiveness in the brown-coal regions by developing and supporting new economic sectors and research fields. Thus, this project intends to open up new perspectives for the coal regions and contributes to structural change.

atene KOM responsibilities

atene KOM GmbH is assigned with the lead of the “Digital Rail Innovation Cluster” project. Thus, atene KOM GmbH is the direct contact for the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and for the involved project partners Boston Consulting Group GmbH (BCG) and DIW Econ GmbH, who are responsible for working packages one and two. In addition, the main focus of atene KOM GmbH is the development of a regional cluster concept in working package three.