CZ/SK verze

Join us at the DAC Conference: The Strategic Role of Railways in Strengthening European Resilience

Join us at the DAC Conference: The Strategic Role of Railways in Strengthening European Resilience
photo: RAILTARGET/Join us at the DAC Conference: The Strategic Role of Railways in Strengthening European Resilience
19 / 09 / 2023

The international railway fair TRAKO 2023, hosted in Gdańsk, Poland, featured a conference on digital automatic couplers (DAC) on Tuesday morning. The presentations were led by Petr Jindra, an international relations specialist from ČD Cargo, and Giorgio Travaini, the executive director of Europe's Rail.

In the initial segment of the conference on digital automatic coupling, Petr Jindra, representing the Association of Railway Freight Carriers of the Czech Republic, took the stage. A spokesperson from Ž indicated that introducing the technology by 2030 might be ambitious, but it's not entirely out of reach. However, Jindra posited that the DAC initiative would struggle without complete financial backing from the European Union.


Today's EU project financing model is unsuitable for DAC Implementation. The Association of Czech Railway Freight Carriers asserts that only the final, highest version at the specified stage, once thoroughly tested and approved, can proceed to production. This version must remain unchanged for a set number of years. Additionally, they emphasized that the issues carriers encountered with ETCS should not reoccur. Navigating the approved procedure will be challenging. DAC is a revolutionary security key component of interoperability, and its inclusion in future planning is essential.

The Most Prominent Risks of DAC Implementation:

  • Deploying any version below Level 5 involves substantial costs without delivering tangible benefits.
  • The DAC lacks full standardization, leading to potential approval challenges.
  • Potential overestimation of advantages in the cost-benefit analysis.

Challenges Associated with DAC That Need Addressing:

  • Between 10-30% of the newest and most frequently used vehicles in Europe might not be adaptable for DAC.
  • When adopting the "Big Bang" approach for introduction, decommissioning the newest and functional vehicles and locomotives is impractical.
  • The projected advantages for carriers might not outweigh the uptick in operational costs.
  • Complete subsidization is necessary for retrofitting wagons and locomotives; depending on bank loans and similar financial avenues poses significant risk to the sector.

In the subsequent segment, Giorgio Travaini shed light on financing the adoption and advancement of the digital automatic coupler. "The DAC is more than just a coupler; it's a pivotal asset in the railway sector," Travaini remarked, emphasizing its multifaceted nature. He also noted that the DAC isn't an isolated piece of technology; rather, it serves as the foundation for "fully digital freight train operations", pivotal for the ambitious evolution of European rail freight transport.


For DAC implementation investments to be considered:

  • The DAC technology and operations need clear definitions and harmonization.
  • The technology should satisfy all primary criteria, with a particular focus on RAMS.
  • Operational features must deliver the anticipated benefits, as validated by comprehensive demonstrations, encompassing safety considerations.