Standard latch type chosen for European Digital Automatic Coupling

Photo: Rail Cargo Group

The European DAC Delivery Programme has chosen the latch type design type Scharfenberg as the European DAC coupler head type. A Europe-wide DAC standard will be developed for European rail freight transport.

During the next phases of the DAC programme, it will lead to the final design of the selected coupler head, ensuring interoperability and operational performance free of royalties or licenses.

Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) is an innovative component to automatically couple and decouple the rolling
stock in a freight train both physically as well as digitally. It has many possibilities: increasing network capacity, less shunting in train formation, reducing manual processes and enabling predictive maintenance.

Design types

The testing campaigns concerned the prototypes for two Scharfenberg type designs and one Schwab type design presented by the participating manufacturers Dellner Couplers AB, J.M. Voith SE & Co. KG and Wabtec Corporation. One SA3 design was withdrawn earlier from the process.

A Scharfenberg type digital coupler, produced by Voith

Around 100 experts of the DAC delivery programme from 36 companies assessed the results of two test consortia and of previous Shift2Rail works in dedicated workshops for each coupler end of July 2021. During last winter, tests were carried out by Trafikverket in Sweden within the Shift2Rail research programme. Other tests were undertaken by the DAC4EU consortium with backing from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport & Digital Infrastructure.

Next steps

In the next phase, specific solutions will be presented by the manufacturers to cover the remaining other DAC requirements and DAC Life Cycle costs will be determined. Through this, the DAC programme will develop the specifications further, as well as the compatibility and safety interfaces. Later, this will result in product pilots and TSI requirements (the EU’s Technical Specifications for Interoperability), and follow-up open points relevant for serial production.

All three manufacturers participating in the current test programme are competent in latch type couplers and can boost further development. More manufacturers will join the process in the upcoming stages, all aiming at establishing the Europe-wide DAC standard and enabling the introduction of DAC in Europe.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Former Editor

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