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Workplace of the dispatcher in Regensburg Ost in mechanical standard design , in operation since 1938

As a dispatcher ( dispatcher ) employees of railway infrastructure company called, which at their assigned stations and stops its own responsibility the approval of trains is up. No train journey may be carried out without the assistance of the dispatcher.


Austrian dispatcher in Werfen train station, Land Salzburg

The dispatcher is responsible for the safe, punctual and economical execution of train journeys, their security and all related tasks within a defined area on the existing infrastructure. The basic set of rules is the driving regulations . He has his workplace in a signal box , in a remote control center or in the operations center of a railway infrastructure company . A dispatcher who operates the facilities in the route is also a switch attendant in this role .

The dispatcher dispatches the train traffic in coordination with the dispatchers , who in Germany monitor several railway lines from an operations center . If a train journey is to take place, the dispatcher checks the route of the train for the absence of vehicles and other obstacles ( route check ), sets, secures and determines it . He then gives the driver the consent to travel to a track section of the station and / or a track section of the free route through a travel term of a main signal , through shunting or substitute signal or through a written or verbal command .

Areas of responsibility

Depending on the design of the interlocking systems, the dispatcher is responsible for differently sized control areas. In the control range of a mechanical interlocking or an electromechanical interlocking , it is usually not possible to control more than one operating point. Several operating points can only be remotely controlled or remotely controlled from one point in the setting range of relay interlockings and electronic interlockings . This is possible because so-called track vacancy detection systems support the route inspection and make local staff superfluous.

Dispatchers who regulate rail operations on a route with train control are called train managers . As a rule, the dispatcher of a train station adjacent to the train control route, a larger subway station or the end of the route takes on the tasks of the train operator.

Dispatchers in a locally manned block location are called block attendants (Blw).

In the operations centers of DB Netz AG , a dispatcher who monitors a specific area is called the locally responsible dispatcher (özF).

In the future, the dispatchers, as tractors, are to receive control access to the (electronic) interlocking from the control systems, i.e. H. the dispatcher takes over the tasks of the dispatcher in regular operations. Measures in the event of a malfunction and maneuvering may still only be carried out by the ÖzF.


The training as a railway worker in operations service , specializing in track, is a recognized training occupation according to the Vocational Training Act (BBiG) and usually lasts three years. It can be shortened to 2.5 or 2 years in the case of particularly good performance or a better school leaving certificate. The largest training railway infrastructure company for this profession in Germany is DB Netz AG , a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG. But the training can also take place at many other railway infrastructure companies. In addition, Deutsche Bahn also offers four-month functional training to become a dispatcher. Two months of this includes work in a signal box and two months of operational seminars at DB Training or trained staff from DB Netz . Participation in the functional training requires at least one completed professional training.

Admission requirements for the training are usually a good secondary school leaving certificate and the passing of a medical examination. Some training companies also require participation in a psychological aptitude test before employment. In addition to accuracy, reliability and flexibility, potential applicants must be willing to take on a great deal of responsibility, as they are responsible for the safe execution of the train and shunting trips and keep a cool head in the event of deviations from normal operations and take appropriate measures according to the situation, taking into account the applicable regulations need to take.

Like many apprenticeships in Germany, training is based on the dual system. The technical theory is imparted at vocational schools and in the company (for example in the form of seminars), the practical implementation of what has been learned is mainly practiced in an interlocking under the responsibility of the dispatcher on duty. Signal box simulations can also be used.

The training ends with a theoretical and a practical final exam before the responsible Chamber of Commerce and Industry .

Many railway infrastructure companies have difficulties filling all apprenticeship positions in a year with suitable applicants. One of the reasons for this problem is that the training occupation is largely unknown among school leavers. The activity of the dispatcher tends to take place in secret and is therefore hardly noticed in public. Due to the age structure of the operating staff and the still high number of decentralized interlockings, the job of dispatcher is still in great demand, both now and in the future.

Even after the apprenticeship and some professional experience, there are good development and further training opportunities depending on qualifications and personal aptitude, for example further training as a specialist in railway operations (IHK). After successfully completing the course, the specialist in railway operations has acquired the qualification for positions such as district manager for operations, route designer or dispatcher in an operations center.


ÖBB dispatcher cap
Dispatcher in the Kőszeg station (Hungary) handling a train.
Dispatcher in
Ulriksfors (Sweden)

The term dispatcher is often associated with the "red cap". In Austria the red cap had to be worn by the dispatcher according to operating regulation V3. In Germany, however (before the privatization of the Deutsche Bundesbahn and the Deutsche Reichsbahn ) it was supervised . This could also be the dispatcher, which was rarely the case and if so, then mostly only in small stations on branch lines . At Deutsche Bahn, dispatchers no longer wear company clothing; at individual operating points in the combined service with customer contact (for example, ticket sales in addition to the dispatcher work), company clothing may be provided according to local regulations, although this does not include a red cap. The “man in the red cap” now usually performs service tasks, but in some large passenger stations he is still there as a local supervisor . Dispatchers who are on duty at stations without exit signals and therefore issue the departure signal with the command staff, continue to wear the red service hat, at least in Central Europe, in order to be recognizable to the train crew as authorized to do so.

Use outside the web

Many aid organizations (e.g. Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe ) also have the function designation "dispatcher". As head of the department, he is usually responsible for fleet management and personnel deployment planning .

Operators of major rides in the leisure industry, e.g. B. in amusement parks and funfair companies with rides , are often referred to as dispatchers. This is to emphasize their special expertise, although this is not a training occupation.

Lack of dispatchers

In autumn 2012, several Deutsche Bahn competitors approached the Federal Network Agency due to the network access barriers associated with the shortage of staff in Bebra, Zwickau and Friedrichssegen, which then initiated proceedings to determine the causes.

In the late summer of 2013, eight of the 15 dispatchers available at Mainz main station were not available, partly due to vacation and partly due to illness. As a result, Deutsche Bahn had to severely restrict train traffic, initially at night and, from August 12, 2013, also during the day. A public discussion arose about the personnel situation of the dispatchers in the Deutsche Bahn signal boxes. Due to the incidents, Hansjörg Hess , board member of DB Netz AG, was released from his duties and the then chairman of the board of Deutsche Bahn AG Rüdiger Grube ended his own vacation prematurely.

In 2013, the Federal Network Agency threatened DB with a fine of 250,000 euros due to a lack of dispatchers in Mainz and 100,000 euros for the Bebra location.

Railway boss Rüdiger Grube announced that his company would hire hundreds of dispatchers in 2013. 1500 new jobs are planned in the five-year plan. In mid-2013, the company says it employed 247 more dispatchers than in 2012. According to its own information, DB Netz increased the number of dispatchers to be employed in 2013 from 340 to 600. In addition, the company announced that it would introduce a binding guideline for staff coverage between neighboring interlockings.

In 2016, according to DB, 364 young people began training as dispatchers.

Web links

Wiktionary: Dispatcher  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Daniela Kuhr: Problems in Mainz were known for a long time . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung . September 2, 2013, ISSN  0174-4917 , p. 6 (similar version with a different title online ).
  2. ^ Süddeutsche Zeitung about the train cancellations in Mainz
  3. ^ Report in the HAZ from August 12, 2013
  4. Report in the Wiesbadener Kurier about the farewell to Hansjörg Hess  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link / www.wiesbadener-kurier.de  
  5. Report on the interruption of vacation from the railway boss
  6. "The railway cannot afford such a disaster" . In: Der Tagesspiegel . No. 21797 , September 2, 2013, p. 13 ( online ).
  7. Bahn increases the number of dispatchers . In: Stuttgarter Zeitung . September 2, 2013, p. 7 .
  8. DB Netz hires additional dispatchers . In: Netznachrichten . No. 3 , 2013, ZDB -ID 2548162-9 , p. 7 ( deutschebahn.com [PDF; 700 kB ]). online ( Memento of the original from September 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.deutschebahn.com
  9. ↑ The training offensive continues. (No longer available online.) Deutsche Bahn, December 30, 2016, archived from the original on December 30, 2016 ; accessed on December 30, 2016 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.deutschebahn.com