Let’s take a look at the test site of the Digital Automatic Coupler

25. 02. 2021

Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) is going to revolutionise the European rail freight transport industry. New videos released by the DAC4EU consortium give us an insight into the test programme that’s currently underway.

Digital Automatic Coupling is a milestone on the journey to making European rail freight transport more competitive: it makes coupling simpler, safer and more efficient.

Europe is the only continent left in the world that still doesn’t use automatic coupling. Having said that, it’s set to be the first continent to have a digital automatic coupling system. As part of the DAC4EU consortium, we are committed to equipping trains across Europe with digital automatic coupling by 2030. We’re testing out the different prototypes right now. The test results will help us decide which one is going to be rolled out Europe-wide.

A peek behind the scenes

Testing has been underway since October 2020. Four DAC prototypes from different manufacturers are being put through their paces.

Take a peek here:

The four designs are on a tight schedule to prove how viable they are under different conditions. The reactions of the different DAC systems on track curves with varying types of track radii is being tested, for example, as well as coupling at different speeds and under different loading conditions.

After the first coupling and shunting trials on the test site in Görlitz, Germany, the wagons are now in a climatic chamber in the German town of Minden, where their reactions to extreme temperatures are being tested:

The tests should form the basis for deciding on one DAC design through the European DAC Delivery Programme (EDDP) under the aegis of Shift2Rail. After the selection has been made, what is known as a demonstrator train will travel all over Europe so that the preferred coupling system can get more operational experience. 

Take a look at our series DAC FAQs to find out more about how DAC is used and its potential.


The European DAC4EU consortium

The DAC4EU consortium consists of the consortium leader DB AG, the rail freight companies ÖBB Rail Cargo Group, DB Cargo and SBB Cargo as well as the wagon keepers Ermewa, GATX Rail Europe and VTG. The consortium is committed to equipping trains throughout Europe with digital automatic coupling. The consortium began work in June 2020. Trains across all of Europe should be equipped with the new technology by 2030 and enable rail freight transport to play a key role in the European mobility system of the future. The German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) is providing around 13 million Euro in funding throughout the project’s two and a half year life span.

As part of the funded TARO project – funded by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) and the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), the RCG is working on processes that will help it get “DAC ready”.