SWITZERLAND’s Federal Office of Transport (FOT) and representatives from the rail freight sector have used the arrival of the Connecting Europe Express in Basle to outline their intentions to introduce a digital automatic coupling (DAC) across the Swiss network.

FOT, the Public Transport Union (PTU), and loading and logistics industry association VAP are working to equip all freight wagons and locomotives in Switzerland with DAC.

Swiss Federal Railway (SBB) subsidiary SBB Cargo sees automation and DAC in particular as playing a vital role in the future of rail freight in both Switzerland and Europe. The freight operator says DAC enables safe and faster processes in train delivery.

The introduction of DAC will be carried out by working closely with European partners, with the aim of making rail freight more competitive. Across Europe it’s planned to increase the modal split in favour of rail from 18% to 30% by 2030.

SBB Cargo has been using automatic coupling for combined transport on parts of its network since May 2019 and the entire domestic combined transport network was converted by June this year.

The Supervisory Board of the European DAC Delivery Programme selected a Scharfenberg latch design as the preferred European-wide DAC standard coupler head design earlier this month. SBB says that rail’s cross-border competitiveness can only be achieved through standardisation.

“This is a further milestone on the path to achieving competitive rail freight transport, which will be key to meeting government climate goals,” says SBB Cargo CEO, Ms Désirée Baer. “SBB Cargo intends to continue driving modernisation forward with its partners to strengthen the position of rail freight transport as the logistical backbone of Switzerland and Europe.”