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'We should've started the DAC project twenty years ago,' says Jan Elfenhorst

'We should've started the DAC project twenty years ago,' says Jan Elfenhorst
photo: RAILTARGET/'We should've started the DAC project twenty years ago,' says Jan Elfenhorst
25 / 01 / 2023

RAILTARGET presents you with an interview with Jan Elfenhorst, General Manager at LINEAS, who spoke about the promptness of the DAC development, looked back at the hardships of 2022 the company had to go through, as well as LINEAS' plans for the upcoming year.

How do you evaluate the program of the VPI symposium?

For me, it's a pretty interesting collection of major challenges we are facing in the next couple of years. In combination with some good practices, ideas and, of course, a lot of experts sitting around telling us what to do and how we can collaborate in order to do so.

How was the year 2022 for LINEAS, and what are the plans for 2023?

I have to admit, 2022 was one of the most challenging years we, as a company, have ever experienced. It's post-Covid, there's the war in Ukraine which was knocking down the whole circuit of traffic, and we had an energy increase which was a pretty heavy discussion with our customers. So it was mainly from a capacity, as well as from the driver cost perspective. A real challenge. And as for 2023, if we focus on that, it's indeed about how we could adjust the way we produce our network in a proper way in order to serve the most important customers in the most cost-efficient way. In our industry, we have to earn money like everywhere else, and it's currently the most challenging thing.

And now, we will move on to my last question. One of the topics of the conference is the DAC. What is Lineas' position on the introduction of the DAC on European railways? Is the issue of funding important to you?

Let me give you two answers. I mean, from the purely LINEAS perspective we are fully supporting it because the automated way of coupling is a key enabler for the future of rail, especially when it comes to wagon groups and single wagons. And, of course, from our perspective, subvention is the key because, on our own, we can't afford to do so. If you ask me personally, being on the second-decade rail, it's a bit late to start the project. We should've done that twenty years ago, and, unfortunately, I have to admit I am now at the age of fifty, and I hope I will still have a positive impact on that one. But again, each and every challenge has to be started, and each journey has the first step, so it's time to do it now, but it will take a long journey to get there.

EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY OF LINEAS’ GENERAL MANAGER, JAN ELFENHORST

“We, as LINEAS, indeed should continue to make preparations for DAC but for that, we have to become more productive and profitable in order to make such investments. And there are other innovations that need implementation before DAC because they are either much cheaper and easier to implement with a much quicker result and return on investment. It is the case for the Digital Platform (DP) and for the Digital Capacity Management (DCM) in line with the Time Tabling Redesign (TTR), or they are mandatory like ERTMS and our huge investment is to be made in ETCS On Board Units. Only then we can consider DAC & ATO.

The position of LINEAS in a European context is that we are far from the implementation of ERTMS, and we already are going to spend more time and effort on DAC, for which there is no financing whatsoever at this moment. In our eagerness for DAC by certain operators, we should not lose sight of other priorities.

If we don't get the necessary funding for something imposed on us, like ERTMS, how will we get funding for which there is no obligation whatsoever?

So in terms of priority among the priorities, this is the order (and so far, has always been the order within our EU Rail Freight Forum coalition):

  • DP
  • DCM / TTR
  • ETCS
  • DAC
  • ATO”

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