Dynamic heating of railway points in Bielefeld (moBiel)

moBiel operates several tram lines with underground stations and overground stops. During the winter, railway points must be heated in order not to freeze. Traditionally, points were permanently heated in winter.

moBiel initiated a pilot study in 2012 and tested dynamic controls at six point heating areas in a tram depot, with a view to preventing disruption of operations on the main network. The point heaters can be locally controlled by a switch (on / off / auto).

The automatic position can be activated or deactivated from the control room via a ripple control system. A defective heating element is immediately detected in the control system and energy meters have been installed, providing information about the current electricity consumption. The use of an humidity sensor is recommended. The point heaters are activated properly every time temperatures fall below 0°C (below 3°C when snowing). Their energy use was reduced by 60% compared to the previous situation. The cost per point heater is around €15,000.
Technical data

Investment costs (€)

€15,000 / heating area

Energy savings (%)


Annual energy savings (kWh)

76,000 kWh

Annual CO2 savings (TCO2)

40 TCO2

Payback time (years)

7 years (normal winter)