First in Bremen, then in individual stages and test phases in parallel operation in Bremerhaven, and now throughout the entire Federal Land of Bremen: PRINOS (Port Railway Information and Operation System), the operating system developed specially for Bremen’s port railway, now handles the entire traffic control on the more than 200 kilometres of railway tracks at the ports in Bremen and Bremerhaven.

“We actually gave ourselves almost a full year for the entire process of changing over to the new digital port railway system, because the whole project was really a bit like open-heart surgery that had to be performed without restricting port railway operations in any way. This has meanwhile been successfully completed and Prinos is now running smoothly,” states Daniel Becker, who is responsible for the project at bremenports.

Kristina Vogt, Senator for Economic Affairs, Ports and Transformation, regards this as a decisive step towards equipping the port railway for the future: “The ports of Bremen are true railway ports, with every second container leaving or arriving at the port on rail. The figure for the automobile sector is even higher, where rail accounts for 80 per cent of all vehicles. Other ports are in a much less fortunate position. The modern, customer-friendly PRINOS system will allow us to make even more of this competitive advantage, as it improves capacity planning and ensures better networking of logistics chains. PRINOS plays a central role in making all processes relating to rail connections to and from our ports more reliable and transparent.”

The new PRINOS has clear advantages over the previous rail traffic control system, which depended largely on the exchange of Excel files and telephone calls or e-mails. “PRINOS also includes a customer portal where rail operators can see in real time where their trains are and even where individual wagons are located. Delays, changes to the timetable or terminal slots are communicated directly through the new system. Shunting service providers can share information about planned shunting movements with the crew at the terminals. PRINOS also facilitates the work there and makes transhipment planning more reliable,” explains bremenports Managing Director Robert Howe.

Marco Molitor, CEO of dbh Logistics IT AG, the company that developed the new program on behalf of Bremen’s port railway, emphasises: “The software development was a real joint project: we would never have been able to develop this solution so successfully without the feedback of everyone involved in the port railway and the discussion of their requirements. I can only say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who worked flat out to make this succeed and say how pleased I am that we, too, could make a contribution towards digitisation of Bremen’s port railway system.”

More efficiency, better capacity exploitation

“For us – and I believe I also speak for all our colleagues on the tracks – the rollout of PRINOS really marks the start of a new era for Bremen’s port railway,” says Thomas Rohn on behalf of the rail operator Eisenbahnen and Verkehrsbetrieben Elbe-Weser GmbH (evb), and adds: “The far simpler data interchange and consequently better scope for coordinating the business processes of all participants have resulted in more efficiency and even better utilisation of the existing infrastructure. Of course this changeover was difficult to begin with for everyone involved and meant a great deal of work, but we can already see that that work has paid off.”

PRINOS will assist with capacity planning, scheduling and billing for the railway at the terminals. One significant new aspect is that there are now interfaces to the DB InfraGO AG systems which can be used to inquire about timetables, train messages or delays; on the other hand, moreover, the new customer portal now includes railway undertakings, shunting service providers and terminal operators in the flow of information about operations management of the railway. Staff at the terminals can now coordinate planned loading times with the port railway, access information about the status of their planned trains and report the loading and unloading status. The greater data transparency ultimately means a significant improvement in planning reliability and optimises the business processes of everyone involved. What’s more, PRINOS also has interfaces to the CODIS system used by the container terminals in Bremerhaven to process all necessary loading data relating to rail handling.

One thing is already clear: PRINOS will undergo continuous further development: “The software is currently being enlarged to include a statistics module and a graphic track map and there are sure to be even more changes and additions to the program in future,” says bremenports IT expert Daniel Becker confidently. Some of these future plans are already included in the recently published smart port strategy for the ports of Bremen. 

Caption: New operating system now manages the entire traffic on the more than 200 kilometres of tracks that make up the port railway infrastructure in Bremen and Bremerhaven.