Test train equipped with prototype of automatic digital coupling was presented in Poznan

Karel Novak, Published on 15/07/2022
Test train equipped with prototype of automatic digital coupling was presented in Poznan
@PKP Cargo

Experts estimate that the cost of rebuilding one carriage is around €15,000 and installing an automatic coupling on a locomotive will cost up to €25,000.


The prototype of the automatic digital coupling was presented by PKP Cargo in cooperation with DB Cargo. According to PKP Cargo, Europe lags behind the United States, Canada, and some Asian countries in the introduction of automatic coupling.

The automatic digital coupling allows locomotives to be connected to wagons and wagons to wagons without human intervention. Currently, the European standard is to use a screw coupler, which means that the wagons are coupled manually by workers. In addition, other car installations are carried out manually. When using a DAC, the installation of the electrical, pneumatic, and data bus is also carried out automatically. The use of this system is expected to significantly reduce the time required to assemble the trainsets. In addition, it will also allow the implementation of the next level of the ETCS 3 signaling system.

Marek Olkiewicz, Member of the PKP Cargo Management Board for Operations, summarised the tests in Poznań:

"This solution will primarily speed up the process of train formation so that trainsets can be put on the road faster. In addition, it will allow increasing the speed of trainsets. This will not only increase the efficiency of carriers but also improve the capacity of the rail network. These benefits will translate into a reduction in the cost of rail transport, thereby increasing its competitiveness vis-à-vis road transport. Automatic couplers should help us increase rail's share of freight transport."

The use of DACs is also expected to enable real-time monitoring of the technical condition of the wagons, which will ultimately reduce the number of breakdowns and rail accidents. The automatic couplers are also expected to enable the transmission of information to customers about the transportation of their freight.

According to the European Commission (EC) plans, the DAC system will be included in the EU WAG TSI and LOC&PAS TSI standards in 2025. From then on, screw couplers will no longer be allowed on new locomotives and freight wagons. The next caesura will occur in 2030 when EU carriers are expected to replace screw couplers with automatic couplers on their entire fleet. In PKP Cargo's fleet, 90% of the vehicles have been modified for the installation of the new systems. However, the problem is the cost of their large-scale implementation.

In Poland, in addition to Poznań, test runs of a train with a prototype DAC system are scheduled in the coming days to the Kujawy cement plant near Inowroclaw, to JSW's Przyjaźń coking plant in Dąbrowa Górnicza and the Zabrze Czarnoles marshaling yard.

This text was created based on the article on our sister's publication sektorkolejowy.pl

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