DAC4EU demonstrator train in Austria

10. 02. 2022

The Digital Automatic Coupling (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. In February 2022, DAC prototypes are going to be tested in Austria for the first time.

It is intended to revolutionise rail freight transport, making it faster, more efficient, and safer, and it is to play a major role in achieving climate targets. The talk is of Digital Automatic Coupling – DAC for short. By 2030, it is to gradually replace the conventional screw coupling in Europe.

Following operational testing of the DAC in Germany, the prototypes of two Scharfenberg coupling designs from the manufacturers Voith and Dellner are now in Austria for the first time. The designated "DAC4EU demonstrator train" has set off from Germany and stops now at various Austrian stations and industrial sidings before the tour continues to Switzerland.

Digitale Automatische Kupplung des Herstellers Voith

Digital automatic coupler from the manufacturer Voith

Digitale Automatische Kupplung des Herstellers Dellner

Digital automatic coupler from the manufacturer Dellner (Generation 1)

The prototypes are to undergo an extensive testing programme at various stations in Austria. The DAC4EU consortium, of which ÖBB Rail Cargo Group is a member, hopes that this will provide information on the use of the DAC in winter conditions, to name just one aspect. The resulting knowledge and input from the colleagues on site will be incorporated into the ongoing development required, in order to make the DAC ready for series production in the long term. The DAC4EU operational test in Austria makes it possible, above all, to introduce the Austria-specific requirements for the DAC at the European level. 

Stay tuned – we'll take you along for the ride!

In the coming weeks, we will be keeping you up to date with which tests are being staged at which locations. The tests serve to obtain data to help catch up with the technological backlog in European rail freight transport – apart from Europe, only North Korea and North Africa currently use the inefficient screw coupling.

Screw coupling

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.