The European Digital Automatic Coupling Delivery Programme (EDDP) Managers Mark Topal-Göckeli, Chief Technical Officer of ÖBB, and Jens Engelmann, Founder of railiable, joined the Rail Freight Forward (RFF) CEO meeting on 26 April 2021. Rail Freight Forward (the coalition of European rail freight companies), has the ambition to increase the modal share of rail freight for which fundamental digitalization and automation of the sector is needed.
In this context, the EDDP, enabled by Shift2Rail, was presented to RFF as one of the key enablers to transform the European Rail Freight sector. For a successful and effective implementation of Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC), it is of crucial importance to have open, close and efficient cooperation between railway undertakings, infrastructure managers and wagon keepers, as well as the rail supply industry, entities in charge of maintenance, concerned sector organisations, rail research centres and national and European political institutions. The European DAC Delivery Programme facilitated by Shift2Rail, offers a unique European platform for such cooperation and collaboration.
The DAC will (directly or based on being the enabler for other and further automation components) increase productivity, efficiency and service quality, in turn leading to an increase of competitiveness. Together with smart increase of capacity, the DAC will be the game changer for shifting more freight traffic to the European rail system, providing for the Green Deal and additionally increasing workers’ safety and value creation for Europe.
The exchange offered the opportunity to share insights on current EDDP project developments with RFF members. The Programme Managers stressed via the Use Case definition that a functionality is being enabled by DAC and additional automation components – for which R&D will still be necessary – will be best developed in the framework of Shift2Rail’s successor programme, Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking. They also emphasized the need for strong engagement from railway undertakings, in particular for current activities relating to the Cost-Benefit-Analysis and Migration, where support from Chief Operating Officers is needed. Europe’s full digital rail freight operations can only be achieved through the integration of the DAC.