Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) makes rail freight transport in Europe easier and faster. It brings speed to handling, operation, and circulation - in the end, goods trains can roll faster. To achieve this, around 500,000 freight wagons across Europe must be equipped with the DAC by 2030. To achieve this, Deutsche Bahn is relying not only on retrofitting in its workshops but also on installing the DAC in so-called pop-up workshops. With the help of these mobile workshop tents, freight wagons can be equipped with the new technology within a short period near their places of use, for example at industrial customers. The aim is to create temporary and additional conversion capacities and to shorten the time freight wagons are absent from customers' premises. A first practical test has been completed by Europe's leading freight railway, DB Cargo, in Bremen.
Dr. Sigrid Nikutta, DB Board Member for Freight Transport: "The Digital Automatic Coupling has proven that it works in practice during the test runs through Europe. Now it is a matter of finding solutions on how to install the DAC quickly and efficiently in freight wagons. With our innovative approach of a pop-up workshop, we have proven that this is possible. In just a few steps, we have turned an analog freight wagon into a digital and intelligent one. With the mobile workshops, we will be able to make thousands of freight wagons fit for the digital future in a short time."
When introducing DAC, the operation must be ensured despite two incompatible coupling systems (screw coupling versus DAC). For this purpose, the freight wagons are first pre-equipped "DAC ready" during normal workshop visits. Then the conversion to the DAC will be carried out in a few simple steps - similar to a "plug & play approach" - in the pop-up workshops. For this purpose, Deutsche Bahn plans to set up 150 pop-up locations throughout Europe with partner companies.
The DAC speeds up shunting, increases the capacity of transshipment stations, and boosts the capacity of the existing rail infrastructure. For the DAC, freight wagons are equipped with continuous power and data lines for the first time. It particularly strengthens single-wagon transport as a green alternative to trucks.
From 2023 onwards, DB Cargo intends to pre-equip its freight wagons for DAC installation as part of regular workshop visits.