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LIVE COVERAGE: Next Steps on the DAC Pre-deployment Trains

LIVE COVERAGE: Next Steps on the DAC Pre-deployment Trains
photo: UIC / Public domain/Digital Automatic Coupler
24 / 04 / 2024

RAILTARGET presents you with live coverage of the online meeting on the European Freight DAC Delivery Programme, brought to you by Europe's Rail. Today's session, titled "Moving European Rail Freight Forward," focuses on the significant advancements in the Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) technology. We will delve into the "Next Steps on the DAC Pre-deployment trains" as part of the comprehensive European DAC Delivery Plan.

10:05 Karel van Gils has taken the stage to open today's event, providing an overview of today's agenda. The session will begin with a detailed discussion on the Expression of Interest for the DAC Pre-deployment Trains, presented by Karel himself. Following this, Jens Engelmann will take over to address the Overview of Questions and Provisions from Potential Candidates. He will also offer an outlook on the upcoming approach and the next steps in the implementation of this groundbreaking technology.

Karel van Gils has stated that we are currently in the midst of the DAC Pre-deployment phase and has showcased a slide to illustrate the point.

Source: Europe's Rail

10:10 He elaborates on the essential functions and components that are being considered within the pre-deployment trains. According to him, the pre-deployment trains shall be equipped with the DAC basic package, which includes a DAC coupler that integrates both energy and data systems. Another critical feature is train integrity and train length determination, ensuring there's precise knowledge of the train's condition and size at all times. This system will also include a coupler with mechanical or push-button uncoupling from the wagon side and a 'prevent coupling' function to avoid unintended connections.

Van Gils continues with a compelling explanation of why a large-scale testing and pre-deployment phase is necessary. He outlines three key objectives that the phase aims to achieve:

Source: Europe's Rail

10:20 Jens Engelmann takes the stage to present the list of 47 companies that have shown substantial interest in the PDT initiative. He notes that there is a solid foundation for moving ahead with the project, as evidenced by widespread European engagement, and highlights several key points:

  • Over 40 trains have been notified as part of the initiative so far

Source: Europe's Rail

  • There is a good balance of different Railway Undertaking (RU) types and geographic distribution, indicating diverse and comprehensive involvement
  • Many stakeholders have set forth provisions or conditions that need to be met, which cover a range of areas including financing, technical requirements, and training
  • However, he also notes that many stakeholders still need to submit detailed information regarding traffic, locomotive, and wagon types.

10:25 Engelmann outlines the next steps in the initiative, focusing on setting up bilateral meetings to collectively progress to the next phase.

Source: Europe's Rail

10:35 Jens Engelmann says that the audience's questions generally fall into four main clusters: funding/financing, approach, technicalities, and training.

  • Regarding funding and financing, he mentions that inquiries have been made about which cost categories will be eligible for additional financing, how much external financing is anticipated, and what conditions exist for financing.
  • For the approach, participants are curious about the next steps of the initiative, whether the European DAC Delivery Programme (EDDP) will coordinate the 100 PDT initiative centrally, the organization of the testing, the specifics of the test cases, and how procurement and authorization are planned.
  • Regarding technicalities, questions revolve around the continuity of DAC in the vehicles post the project, the selection of rolling stock for the PDT project, and the intended traffic and industries to be served.
  • For training, there's a need to understand the training requirements for the PDT project, the staff who will require training, the party responsible for organizing the training, and the duration of the training process.

Engelmann states that these questions are integral to the project's progression and that addressing them is crucial for moving forward. He reflects on the enthusiasm received, confirming that the general interest expressed will indeed influence further planning and deployment.

10:45 In response to the question about using large test centers like GCRE for the initiative, which could simplify the process and minimize operational disruptions, Jens Engelmann acknowledges that while this is true, the scope of the project's reach is extensive. He emphasizes the importance of broad area coverage across Europe for the universal application of the technology, which goes beyond the convenience of a single test center.

10:50 As for the inquiry on the duration for companies to join the initiative and the need for a concrete number of couplers for planning, Engelmann clarifies that there is currently no cut-off point for participation. "If you want to join and participate, we will never say no," he says.

However, the audience highlighted the practical need to set a deadline to ensure the project's manageability and to entice more immediate action from potential participants. Both Karel van Gils and Jens Engelmann acknowledge that a deadline is sensible and suggest that it would likely coincide with or follow shortly after Innotrans 2024.

11:00 Engelmann proceeds to outline the projected timeline leading up to InnoTrans 2024, marking the milestones and key actions that will shape the initiative in the coming months:

Source: Europe's Rail

This concludes the ‘Next Steps on the DAC Pre-deployment trains' meeting. Thank you for tuning in with RAILTARGET for the live coverage.