CZ/SK verze

Switzerland Advances in Preparations for Implementing Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC)

Switzerland Advances in Preparations for Implementing Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC)
photo: DAC4EU / Public domain/DAC
25 / 01 / 2024

Switzerland is preparing for the introduction of Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) and already uses automatic coupling for almost all shipments. The main objective is to increase the level of digitalization of this system.

Switzerland already uses automatic couplers on ninety percent of its transports and is therefore addressing the level of digitization. In view of the integration of the rail market, it is participating in EU and Europe's Rail negotiations. Switzerland has decided to modernize rail freight transport, largely independently of the EU and regardless of the development of the discussion in the EU on standardizing the electrical and digital parts. All these decisions are independent of how the transition to DAC and its financing will take place. We have already reported on the launch of the Swiss DAC+ test project. A pilot train of SBB Cargo, the University of Lucerne, PJ Monitoring, plc-tec, Voith, and Knorr Bremse will progressively test different coupling functionalities.

What about funding?

In Switzerland, every subsidy program must be approved by the government (Bundesrat). The government has decided that, due to the benefits, especially for individual carloads, it will allow all rail operators to fund 30% of the cost of the DAC retrofit with public funds.

Due to the progress of the DAC preparations, Switzerland is also one of the leaders of the standardization group in the European electrical standards group CENELEC. This group has considered a total of 12 technologies and has selected ETB as the most appropriate technology to support DAC, which it is continuing to work on. The choice of technologies is also determined by the functionalities envisaged for the future, for example, the deployment of camera systems. However, the complexity of the situation shows that there is no reference model in the world that the EU and Switzerland can follow.

On 10 January 2024, the government agreed to support the introduction of DAC with EUR 180 million. Until the DAC is operational, Switzerland has decided to financially support individual car shipments. The project is limited to a period of eight years, with EUR 260 million earmarked for the first four years. For an unlimited period, the government has approved a cost contribution for the transshipment of individual loads to level the playing field in the market. On the Rhine River, the government will support the water-rail intermodal logistics infrastructure. At the same time, the Federal Government has submitted a communication to Parliament stating that this is a budget-neutral decision as it will reduce the budget of the Rail Infrastructure Fund (BIF) by the same amount. It also guaranteed that the maintenance and modernization of existing infrastructure would not be compromised.