White rails may solve heatwave problems, DB starts tests

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) has started to test white-painted rails for the first time during operation in an effort to fight heatwaves in the future.

After successful initial tests of white rails’ cooling effects on a test site this summer, DB now hopes to examine the durability and wear of the paint as well as the application over larger distances, with 1 km track on the high-speed line from Hannover to Wuerzburg painted with environmentally friendly white paint, DB said in a statement.

The paint’s resilience to high frequency of trains will be tested on a 61-m-high bridge near Melsungen, Hesse, it added.

Preliminary tests since July showed the white-painted rails could be “significantly less hot” than the conventional model, it said.

The company described the tests as “another DB project dealing with the consequences of climate change”. High temperatures could damage rails and track beds, as steel expands under extreme heat, it said in the statement.

The results are expected to come out in one year before any possible extension to other routes, it added.

Germany has just had one of the hottest summers in history. On July 25, temperature as high as 42.6 degrees Celsius was recorded in the city of Lingen, the hottest ever measured in Germany.