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An important step on the path towards a change in transport policies is the shift of freight traffic from road to rail. In order to decisively increase the competitiveness of rail as a mode of transport, the introduction of an automatic coupling for freight transport is essential. The DAC4EU (= Digital Automatic Coupling for Europe) consortium is currently working on the testing of various coupling systems, one of which could eventually revolutionise European rail freight transport.
The DAC4EU (= Digital Automatic Coupling for Europe) consortium consists of the railway companies DB AG and its subsidiary DB Cargo (Germany), Rail Cargo Group (Austria), SBB Cargo (Switzerland) and the vehicle owners Ermewa, GATX Rail Europe and VTG. They are currently working together to test various coupling systems, one of which could ultimately revolutionise European rail freight transport. The project is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) with around 13 million Euros.
The Rolling Stock Test Center in Görlitz as part of TÜV SÜD Rail GmbH is involved in the testing. Currently, the coupling systems of the four manufacturers Voith (Germany), Dellner Couplers (Sweden), Faiveley Transport (Switzerland) and CAF (Spain) are undergoing impact and running tests with various track geometries and carriage configurations. Each type of coupler has to withstand, among other things, more than 400 impact tests (shunting impacts). DB Systemtechnik GmbH is supervising the tests with regard to measurements. After completion of the five-month test phase at the TÜV-SÜD-Rail site in Görlitz, a coupling type is to be selected at the beginning of 2021, which will be subjected to operational testing in a "demonstration train".
On October 20th, representatives of the Technical Innovation Circle for Rail Freight Transport (TIS) were able to inform themselves about the current status of coupling testing at a conference in Görlitz. The good cooperation between TÜV SÜD Rail and DB Systemtechnik, which enables the demanding test programme to be carried out professionally, was specifically acknowledged.
In addition, a further innovative product from Deutsche Bahn will be tested in Görlitz whilst the trial of the digital automatic coupling is ongoing: to support the tests, a shunting locomotive of the former 294 series converted to hybrid drive was brought to Görlitz. This locomotive, which was developed in the HELMS (Hybrid Electronic Mechanical Shunter) project and also via the public-private partnership "Shift2Rail", is used in Görlitz for shunting tasks, such as part of coupling testing.
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