Digital automatic coupling in rail freight traffic:
six European partners form a consortium • Start of programme of testing digital automatic coupling
The European consortium DAC4EU (= Digital Automatic Coupling for Europe) is putting the use of digital automatic coupling (DAC) in rail freight traffic to the test. Six companies from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France have been awarded a contract by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) to conduct a research project entitled ‘DAC Demonstrator for Rail Freight Traffic’. The members of the DAC4EU consortium are Deutsche Bahn and its subsidiary DB Cargo, the Swiss and Austrian freight operators SBB Cargo and Rail Cargo Austria, and the wagon keepers Ermewa, GATX Rail Europe and VTG. The BMVI has allocated approximately EUR 13 million in funding to the research project, which will run from June 2020 until December 2022.
The majority of freight wagons in rail traffic in Europe are currently coupled manually by means of screw couplings. With DAC, however, freight wagons can be coupled automatically together with their air brake pipes as well as power and data lines for the freight wagons. DAC is a key component of digitalising and automating rail freight traffic as it allows for universal power and data lines across all freight wagons. In addition, the use of DAC significantly increases infrastructure capacities, and as such DAC has an important part to play in European climate targets being achieved.
Following the first step of fitting twelve freight and tank wagons belonging to DB Cargo and GATX with coupling prototypes developed by various manufacturers, a comprehensive programme of coupling testing was initiated in October. Every coupling will undergo 440 individual tests ranging from coupling attempts at varying speeds to tests performed in a climate chamber.
Upon completion of the tests, the test results will be passed on to the European DAC Delivery Programme (EDDP) and will play a part in the EDDP’s decision-making process regarding the selection of a particular coupling design.
In the subsequent phase of the research project, the DAC4EU consortium will test the coupling design selected by the EDDP in Germany, Switzerland and Austria as well as in other European countries, which are yet to be selected.
The aim of the DAC Demonstrator pilot project for the demonstration, testing and approval of digital automatic coupling (DAC) for rail freight traffic is for a coupling design to be selected which can then be rolled out throughout Europe. DAC will pave the way for the comprehensive automation and digitalisation of rail freight traffic in Europe.
Find out more details about the DAC Demonstrator research project for rail freight traffic on the following pages.