DB to offer DAC for freight wagons on the go

Deutsche Bahn are using pop-up workshops throughout Europe to retrofit freight wagons with digital automatic coupling.

Pop-up workshops can equip freight wagons digital automatic coupling in just a short time.

Pop-up workshops can equip freight wagons with digital automatic coupling in just a short time -Credit: DB AG/Oliver Lang

Deutsche Bahn (DB) are now offering to install digital automatic coupling (DAC) at pop-up workshops. With around 500,000 freight wagons needing to be equipped with DAC across Europe by 2030, DB are using mobile workshop tents where freight wagons can be equipped with the new technology quickly near where they are used, for example at industrial customers’ sites. These pop-up workshops will help create temporary additional retrofitting capacity and shorten the amount of time that wagons are unavailable to customers. DB Cargo, Europe’s leading freight operating company, has successfully completed the first test in practice in Bremen.

“Test runs through Europe have proven that digital automatic coupling works in practice,” Dr. Sigrid Nikutta, Board Member for Freight Transport at DB, said. “The next step is to find solutions for installing DAC in freight wagons quickly and efficiently. We have shown that it can be done with our innovative approach of using pop-up workshops. In just a few steps, we can convert an analogue freight wagon into a smart, digital one. The mobile workshops will allow us to make thousands of freight wagons fit for the digital future in a short span of time.”

When DAC is introduced, operations need to be ensured despite there being two incompatible coupling systems (screw coupler versus DAC). Freight wagons are first pre-equipped during normal visits to the maintenance depot. Once wagons are DAC-ready, it takes just a few steps to finish retrofitting them at a pop-up workshop. The conversion works similar to Plug & Play. Deutsche Bahn and its partner companies want to set up 150 pop-up locations throughout Europe.

DAC speeds up shunting, increases capacity at transhipment yards and boosts the capacity of the existing rail infrastructure. Retrofitting wagons with DAC means that wagons are also being equipped with continuous power and data lines for the first time. This strengthens single-wagon transport as a green alternative to lorries in particular.

Beginning in 2023, DB Cargo intends to make its freight wagons DAC-ready as part of normal maintenance depot stops.

If you are interested about further Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) developments, then you will be interested in attending Global Railway Review‘s Digital Rail 2022 event, in-person at Twickenham Stadium in London on 7 & 8 November. What needs to happen within the industry to progress with DAC will be discussed between these panel experts:

  • Valerie Baumgartner, Innovation Manager, Rail Cargo Group
  • Annette Bernstrom, Head of Locomotive Fleet, Green Cargo
  • Antoine Rothey, Senior Advisor, Digital & Innovation, Fret SNCF

Register to attend Digital Rail 2022 here, and have the chance to network with these experts and ask them your questions.


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