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Swiss Consortium Launches DAC+ Project to Modernize Railway Freight Traffic

Swiss Consortium Launches DAC+ Project to Modernize Railway Freight Traffic
photo: SBB CFF FFS/Swiss Consortium Launches DAC+ Project to Modernize Railway Freight Traffic
09 / 03 / 2023

A Swiss digital freight train pilot (DAC+) has been launched by a consortium consisting of SBB Cargo, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU), PJM, Voith and plc-tec. The aim is to modernize railway freight traffic.

The pilot train comprises six container wagons functioning as test wagons and a covered wagon that emulates the locomotive, integrating the power supply and test equipment for the other wagons. The test program will include standstill tests, the train runs, and shunting operations at various locations and journeys across Switzerland. The project's results will be used to further develop the DAC at the European level, with the tests running until the end of 2023.

The DAC+ project aims to automate the freight train equipped with an automatic coupler, including a digital data line. The project is implemented with the support of the Federal Office of Transport (FOT). The digital automatic coupling will replace the current ageing legacy system and deliver improved performance with a more reliable system resulting in better punctuality and an overall improved journey for passengers. One of the technologies is the “Powerline PLUS Train Backbone” (PTB) data link, which connects all wagons and the locomotive(s) via the DAC. The second technology is Single Pair Ethernet (SPE), which does not transmit the data via the power lines but instead via separate data lines and additional electrical contacts in the DAC.

The Swiss digital freight train pilot (DAC+) is making an important contribution to the future of railway freight traffic and to the introduction of digital automatic coupling across Europe. The success of the project depends on both national-level and European-level initiatives to test and further develop digital automatic coupling. The experience gained at SBB Cargo is incorporated into European specifications, norms and standards. The task at the European level is now to define the technology for data transfer.