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EXCITING: DB installs DAC on freight wagons at pop-up workshops

EXCITING: DB installs DAC on freight wagons at pop-up workshops
photo: Deutsche Bahn/EXCITING: DB installs DAC on freight wagons at pop-up workshops
19 / 10 / 2022

The implementation of Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) is expected to simplify rail freight transportation in Europe and result in faster operations. By speeding up handling, operations, and turnaround times, freight trains will be able to travel more quickly.

Approximately 500,000 freight wagons will require DAC installation across Europe by 2030. In order to meet this objective, Deutsche Bahn plans to retrofit wagons at its own maintenance depots and also install DAC at temporary workshops. These mobile workshops, in the form of pop-up tents, will allow wagons to be equipped with the new technology in close proximity to where they are being used, such as industrial customers’ sites. This approach will create supplementary retrofitting capacity, reducing the amount of time wagons are unavailable to customers. DB Cargo, the leading freight operating company in Europe, successfully conducted its first practical test in Bremen.

According to Dr. Sigrid Nikutta, DB Board Member for Freight Transport, test runs across Europe have proven that digital automatic coupling works in practice. The next step is to develop efficient solutions for retrofitting freight wagons with DAC. The innovative approach of using pop-up workshops has demonstrated that it is possible to convert analog freight wagons into smart, digital ones. The mobile workshops will allow thousands of freight wagons to be made ready for the digital future in a short period of time.

To ensure continuous operations despite the presence of two incompatible coupling systems (screw coupler versus DAC), freight wagons will be pre-equipped during standard visits to the maintenance depot. Once wagons are DAC-ready, it will only take a few simple steps to complete retrofitting at a pop-up workshop, which works similar to Plug & Play. Deutsche Bahn and its partner companies plan to establish 150 pop-up locations throughout Europe.

DAC is expected to speed up shunting, increase capacity at transhipment yards, and strengthen single-wagon transport as a green alternative to lorries. Retrofitting wagons with DAC will also equip wagons with continuous power and data lines for the first time.

Starting in 2023, DB Cargo aims to make its freight wagons DAC-ready as part of standard maintenance depot stops.