Digital automatic coupling: Train begins test journey through Europe


 Digital automatic coupling: Train begins test journey through Europe

The first test train of the revolutionary digital automatic coupling (DAC) has been put on rails in Germany.

DAC is an important part of the digitalisation of freight transport and enables freight wagons to be coupled automatically. The wagons connections to the brakes are also made automatically, and for the first time freight wagons will be equipped with continuous power and data lines.

DAC makes shunting processes faster, freight trains can be longer and heavier with the new coupling technology, and they can run at higher speeds than before, thus better flowing with rail traffic. This will increase the capacity of the rail network and DAC will make a significant contribution to meeting European climate targets.

- We see this as an incredibly exciting development in our industry, and for our employees it will mean saving them a lot of heavy lifting once it comes to Denmark," says Jan T. Andersen, Head of Location Management.

The test continues throughout the year

The test train will travel through Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with other EU countries to follow. In the process, DAK will be tested in driving situations other than those that would be possible in Germany. These include steeper gradients, tighter curves or other climatic conditions. The test drive is intended to make the DAC ready for series production. The practical test is the second phase of the project, which will be completed by the end of this year. In the past few months, track races have already been run in Germany and coupling tests have been carried out at marshalling yards.

- Digitalisation is the future of freight transport, and DAK is helping to keep the railways in play as the key player when it comes to climate-friendly transport, says Birgit Wirth, CEO of DB Cargo Scandinavia.

Sigrid Nikutta, CEO of DB Cargo AG, points in the same direction:

- Digitalisation and automation of train operations is a strong signal to our logistics customers: goods belong on rail. Each of our trains saves 80 to 100 percent CO2 compared to road transport. And with DAC we make the railway system much simpler and faster.

The test train is part of a €13 million research project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV). It involves a consortium of six companies. In addition to DB and its subsidiary DB Cargo, they are the Swiss and Austrian railway companies SBB Cargo, Rail Cargo Austria as well as Ermewa, GATX Rail Europe and VTG.