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"DAC Is a Complete Game-Changer for Freight Transport," Says Andreas Matthä, CEO of ÖBB

&quote;DAC Is a Complete Game-Changer for Freight Transport,&quote; Says Andreas Matthä, CEO of ÖBB
photo: RAILTARGET/"DAC Is a Complete Game-Changer for Freight Transport," Says Andreas Matthä, CEO of ÖBB
29 / 05 / 2023

During European Railway Award, we had a chance to meet Andreas Matthä, CEO of ÖBB. In this exclusive interview, Matthä reflects on the challenges and triumphs of the past year and lays out the ambitious vision for ÖBB and European railways at large, as well as on the need for infrastructure expansion, greater unification, and widespread digitisation, underlining the crucial role of technologies like ETCS and DAC in the evolution of freight transport.

How do you evaluate this year's European Railway Award?

Two very important prized were awarded, firstly in recognition of Ukrainian Railways and the incredible achievements they have made during this time, and also as a testament to how resilient European railways are. The second award was given to Lithuanian Freight Railways and its CEO, a message that women are a crucial part of European railways and that more of them are needed here too.

If you were to look back to 2022, what kind of year was it for the railways?

The year 2022 was, of course, still very much affected by the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the subsequent increase in energy prices, which we had to deal with. We lost more than EUR 50 billion in revenue in Europe and also need adequate support from the European Union and the national railways. However, we will never give up and will continue to ensure that the rail system has a bright future because it is an important part of the transport revolution and, thus, of climate protection.

On the other hand, what are your challenges for 2023?

The challenge will be that, as a result of the turnaround in transport, we want to have, in particular, increasing numbers of passenger and freight traffic, which means that we need infrastructure expansion, we need more railways in Europe, but the railways themselves also need Europe, which means, we need more unification, more technical standards, and we need digitisation measures across Europe, which now means ETCS or, very importantly, the DAC, Digital Automatic Coupling, which is a complete game-changer for freight transport.

My last question is related to the DAC. It's a big topic. What is your vision regarding its funding?

The DAC makes it possible to modernise and digitise the freight train, to carry longer and heavier trains and, above all, to increase overall speed because many of the measures essential for a freight train can now be automated.