On Monday, October 5th 2020, the DAC4EU working group (DB AG, DB Cargo, Ermewa, GATX Rail Europe, Rail Cargo Austria, SBB Cargo and VTG) started the test program for the digital automatic coupling (DAC). With that, the pilot project – financed by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure– to demonstrate, test and seek the approval for DAC in rail freight transport entered an important phase.
Nine freight railcars equipped with 12 DAC prototypes from Dellner, Voith and Wabtec / Faiveley, were transferred from Minden / Westphalia to the test site in Görlitz-Schlauroth on Thursday October 1st. The DACs from the manufacturer CAF are currently being installed on freight wagons at the Mannheim and Minden locations and are equipped with measurement technology. They will also be transferred to Görlitz in November.
The DAC prototypes are being thoroughly tested according to a specified procedure. Each DAC goes through 440 individual tests within a short period of time. The technical requirements and the behavior of the DACs are tested in multiple test scenarios such as the DAC’s performance in track curves with different track radii at different speeds and under different loading conditions. A speed range of 2-12 km / h is tested, but not exceeding a compression force of 2,000 kN. The measurements of occurring forces are just as much a part of the test program as the tests for safety against derailment. In addition to the mechanical part of the coupling, the DB Systemtechnik test team focused particularly on the e-coupling, which was used for the first time in rail freight transport. The power and data lines of the freight wagons are coupled with one another via the e-coupling.
What has been common practice for years in ICE passenger transport is now being tested for functionality and reliability under the robust requirements for rail freight transport. After completing the tests on the site of TÜV Süd Rail GmbH in Görlitz-Schlauroth, the DACs will be brought the DB Systemtechnik climate chamber in Minden where tests for extreme weather conditions (-40 ° C to + 45 ° C) will be performed. The tests of the DAC prototypes are to be completed in February 2021. The test results will be an essential part of the decision as to which DAC design will be selected for the roll-out throughout Europe. This decision is taken at a European level within the framework of the Shift2Rail-European DAC Delivery Program.
Since the DAC technology will determine the innovation in rail freight transport in the next few years, this text is part of a News series in which the DAC4EU project, financed by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure with € 13 million and carried out by seven consortium partners, is being introduced. In the next post you will read about the challenges up to the Europe-wide introduction and an overview of rail couplings in the world.