A look back at the DAC4EU demonstrator train in Austria

10. 03. 2022

From early February to early March, the Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) prototypes were in Austria for the first time, where they underwent extensive testing. We’ve got the highlights for you here.

DAC is considered a milestone in process optimisation and digitalisation, and is expected to make a significant contribution to the transformation of rail freight transport. From February 2022, the prototypes of two Scharfenberg couplers manufactured by Voith and Dellner were in Austria for the first time. As part of this process, they underwent a range of tests at various Austrian railway stations and industrial sidings in the country. After that, the DAC4EU demonstrator train carried on to Switzerland. 

What is the DAC4EU demonstrator train all about?

Europe is currently the only continent without automatic coupling in freight transport. Shunting workers therefore have to lift couplers weighing around 20 kilograms each up to 300 times a day. This is inefficient, time-consuming, physically straining and, above all, dangerous. Digital Automatic Coupling should change this situation, as it automatically couples wagons together and also connects the power, data and main air supply lines of the wagons. It is expected to gradually replace the conventional screw coupling in Europe by 2030. In the future, this could reduce turnaround times while improving workplace safety for shunting staff. The functionality of the couplers is currently being tested on a demonstrator train, which travelled through Germany, then Austria and is now continuing its tour in Switzerland.

Across Austria

The DAC4EU demonstrator train stopped at a number of locations, including Rankweil and Langen am Arlberg in Vorarlberg, Selzthal, and Niklasdorf in the Styria region, and then finally in Vienna. The DAC underwent various tests there – predominantly shunting tests on the level, coupling and uncoupling tests, measurement runs, repulsion tests and tests in which the behaviour of the DAC was studied under winter conditions.

DAC test diary - part 1

DAC test diary - part 2

DAC test diary - part 3

DAC test diary - part 4

DAC test diary - part 5

The DAC4EU consortium, consisting of the consortium leader DB AG, the freight railways ÖBB Rail Cargo Group, DB Cargo and SBB Cargo as well as the wagon operators Ermewa, GATX Rail Europe and VTG, is committed to preparing the selection of a coupling design for a Europe-wide roll-out. The consortium began its work in June 2020. The BMDV is financing the DAC4EU project with around 13 million euros over the project period of two and a half years.

The Federal Ministry Republic of Austria for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) is supporting the TARO Project, which also addresses matters related to the DAC with a total of 3.5 million euros from the FTI Program Mobility of the Future (Mobilität der Zukunft), managed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) 

Learn more about DAC here.