Part VI: Field test of the digital automatic coupling

05. 01. 2022

Since September 2020, prototypes of the Digital Automatic Coupler (DAC) have been put through their paces in Germany as part of a project commissioned and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV).

Read more about what exactly is being tested here.

It was designed to revolutionise rail freight transport and make it faster, more efficient and safer. It's considered a milestone and plays an important role in attaining climate targets. We're talking about the Digital Automatic Coupling – or DAC for short. By 2030 it will be gradually replacing conventional screw couplings in Europe.

In summer 2021, technical testing of the prototypes of four different manufacturers were completed as part of the pilot project DAC4EU. Based on these test results, the coupling head was selected as part of a European assessment. Since September, the selected coupling type (Scharfenberg Design) has been examined closely at various test sites in Germany. How are wagons disconnected at the marshalling hump? Are the processes with the DAC as we imagined? What about electricity and data from the test runs? All these are questions which were examined closely. RCG staff was also present during the tests at the marshalling hump in Munich.

Currently, prototypes of two manufacturers – Voith and Dellner – are being tested following a decision within the European DAC Delivery Program (EDDP). The test consortium hopes the test results will particularly provide information about the system – for instance weak spots or what still needs to be improved and advanced.

Barbara Lunzer (RCG), Philipp Wagenknecht (RCG), Wolfgang Reissner (ÖBB Technische Services) and Manuel Rapold (RCG) at the DAC operational test in Germany.

DAC will soon also be coming to Austria

By the way, the DAC will soon also be coming to Austria. In February 2022 the so-called "DAC Demo Train" from the DAC4EU project will be stopping at several Austrian train stations and private sidings and be tested extensively. We hope this will also provide information about using the DAC in winter conditions.

The DAC4EU consortium, consisting of the consortium leader DB AG, the rail freight companies ÖBB Rail Cargo Group, DB Cargo and SBB Cargo, as well as the wagon hire companies Ermewa, GATX Rail Europe and VTG, are campaigning for equipping trains throughout Europe with the Digital Automatic Coupling. The consortium began its work in June 2020. By 2030, Freight wagons throughout Europe are to be equipped with the new technology and contribute to rail freight transport taking on an essential role in the European mobility system of the future. The BMDV is financing the DAC4EU project over a project period of two and a half years with about 13 million Euro.

The Federal Ministry of the 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 3.5 million EUR total from the FTI Program Mobility of the Future (Mobilität der Zukunft), managed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) 

Learn more about DAC here.