CZ/SK verze

"Decarbonization of the Czech Economy 2023" Conference: 'DAC as a Technology, Not an Ideology,' Says Czech Transport Minister

&quote;Decarbonization of the Czech Economy 2023&quote; Conference: 'DAC as a Technology, Not an Ideology,' Says Czech Transport Minister
photo: RAILTARGET Archive/"Decarbonization of the Czech Economy 2023" Conference: 'DAC as a Technology, Not an Ideology,' Says Czech Transport Minister
03 / 11 / 2023

Amidst discussions surrounding the Czech Republic's decarbonization initiatives, the 'Decarbonization of the Czech Economy 2023' conference was ablaze with a particular controversy – the future of Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) in European railways. As the nation aligns with other European Union states in its march towards carbon neutrality, concerns arise regarding the potential costs of this transformation, particularly in sectors like industrial production, transport, and agriculture. The Czech Republic's economic disparity with the EU average raises these concerns.

Giorgio Travaini, Executive Director at Europe's Rail Joint Undertaking, stressed the importance of focusing on the logistics side of rail transport. He emphasized, "Today, it's extremely difficult for clients to even know that there's a rail service for transporting goods from point A to point B." Travaini highlighted rail's energy efficiency advantage due to its low friction nature, and the resultant decrease in CO2 emissions even without electrification. However, he noted the congestion in many networks, suggesting the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) as potential solutions. He stated, "Digital Automatic Coupling will allow this to happen. The application of ERTMS will increase the network capacity by 30%."

Martin Kupka, Czech Minister of Transport, offered a contrasting perspective, questioning the feasibility of implementing the DAC in the short term. "If the technology is not well developed even today, thinking about the fact that we will invest billions of crowns together with the key requirements for building infrastructure, we can run into a real problem," Kupka warned. He expressed that the country's high expectations for ERTMS were met with disappointment, especially concerning its interoperability across Europe. Kupka urged for a "realistic" approach, taking into account the economic capabilities of the nation, ensuring that the transition to decarbonization does not jeopardize the Czech economy. "If we want to achieve what we all perceive as necessary, then it must have realistic contours, and it must not have an ideological charge," he concluded.

Travaini also shared additional insights, highlighting that by 2050, freight is expected to surge by 50%, emphasizing the pressing need to collaborate and strategize logistics for sustainable transport modes. He praised the European Commission's recent "Greening Freight Transport" publication and asserted the importance of digital and automated operations in modernizing rail transport. "We need to ensure that national infrastructure managers can communicate with each other not just by calls... but by using the advance of digital technologies," Travaini remarked. He wrapped up by acknowledging the Czech Republic's strategic positioning in the realm of freight, citing it as a pivotal link connecting North to South and East to West.