Pilot project: Digital Automatic Coupling

RCG is part of the consortium DAC4EU that has been formed to conduct trials on Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC). The new technology lays the foundations for the automation and digitisation of rail freight transport in Europe.

DAC4EU is a consortium project being carried out by six public and private freight transport companies: along with the RCG, DB Cargo (Germany), SBB Cargo (Switzerland) as well as the freight wagon owner Ermewa, GATX Rail Europe and VTG are on board. DB AG is the consortium leader. The “Pilot Project for the Demonstration, Testing and Approval of Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) for Rail Freight Transport” began in June and will run until December 2022. The goal of the initiative is to prepare for the selection of one specific type of coupling that will be implemented across Europe.

Efficiency through automation

Freight wagons still have to be coupled to one another and then checked by hand – a time-consuming and physically demanding process that can also be dangerous for staff. In the future, the wagons are to be attached to one another by means of digital automatic coupling: middle-buffer coupling with an air pipe, power line and data cable. Automatic coupling should significantly increase efficiency at shunting yards. Furthermore, a continual electricity and data supply to the wagons forms the basis for further automatized processes.

Various coupling mechanisms by four providers are being tested until 2021. After this, what is known as a “demonstrator train” – equipped with the preferred type of coupling – will travel throughout Europe. Trains all across Europe are to be equipped with the new technology by 2030.

The Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) is financing the project with around 13 million Euro over the next two and a half years.