AUSTRIA, Germany and Switzerland are calling on the European Union (EU) to provide financial support for the Digital Automatic Coupler (DAC) programme. The three countries signed a joint position paper on April 30 asking the EU to provide more funding to fit the DAC to over 500,000 freight wagons across Europe.

“The faster the technology is used across the board, the sooner we will benefit - economically and ecologically,” says Germany’s federal minister for digital affairs and transport, Dr Volker Wissing. “DAC is a real game-changer and will make a decisive contribution to shifting more goods to rail through greater efficiency. But one thing is clear: without the EU it won't work. It must financially support the conversion to DAC.”

"The European Union is called upon to present a joint European plan, including a financing concept for DAC, to instill the necessary confidence in this project," says Ms Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s federal minister for climate action, environment, energy, mobility, innovation and technology.

Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and its freight subsidiary Rail Cargo Group (RCG) are taking a major role in the development and deployment of the new coupler by leading the European DAC Delivery Programme (EDDP), where work is being done on DAC migration plans, cost:benefit analysis, and funding requirements.

Last month, seven European industry partners, led by DB Cargo, founded the DAC-Fit consortium to speed up development and installation of the new coupler, supported financially by Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking (ERJU).