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Worker safety a priority in the European DAC Delivery Programme

The European DAC Delivery Programme (EDDP), enabled by Shift2Rail (S2R), now Europe’s Rail JU, sees a high value in early collaboration with trade unions on DAC-related developments to ensure worker safety is considered at every stage of the process. The trade unions are also actively engaged in this programme, therefore, in summer the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) joined the EDDP Supervisory Board. ETF represent about 700 000 workers in the railway sector and it is represented in the EDDP SB by by Alexander James Lovell. The EDDP Supervisory Board is responsible for the supervision of the overall progress of the work done in the EDDP and provides recommendations and guidelines. Beyond EDDP Supervisory Board participation, trade unions are also connecting with the programme in a new EDDP & Trade Unions platform that started this November.

Previously, on 9 -10 June, representatives of the trade unions vida (Austria), EVG (Germany) and SEV (Switzerland), sent by the ETF, visited the test site in Görlitz (GE), where the functionalities of various digital automatic coupling (DAC) prototypes were examined. The aim was to gather experiences and evaluations from railway workers – shunting staff, train drivers and wagon masters, whose daily work will be significantly facilitated thanks to the new DAC.

Additionally, a concept was devised for a joint platform of the EDDP & trade unions. The goal is to enable the successful implementation of DAC in transparent cooperation with a strong focus on employees & just transition, operational safety, and health & safety and to ensure that the expectations on both sides are articulated and understood by the respective parties.

The first EDDP & Trade Unions platform meeting took place on 30 November with representatives of ETF, the EDDP Programme Managers, Executive Director and Head of R&I of the S2R, and relevant experts of the EDDP.

Trade unions gained insight into relevant milestones in the EDDP’s efficiently designed structure in order to be able to use their own resources in a targeted manner. ETF gave an update on the Görlitz visit by union representatives and made important points in relation to health and safety and employment policy issues, while the EDDP shared information on the coupler type selection process and decision, gave an outlook on current migration works and outline of the field of analysis on „workers’ safety“ carried out within the S2R-funded new DACcelerate project, which is supporting works of the EDDP.

ETF as well as EDDP representatives were able to define areas for even stronger cooperation which will be intensive until the next EDDP & Trade Unions platform meeting, which shall take place twice a year.

In collaboration the EDDP, with the support of ETF, is aiming to address the three principal challenges the European rail freight sector is facing – capacity, productivity and quality – all crucial for a more efficient and modern rail freight system contributing to workers’ safety. The DAC is not a stand-alone technology, but the basis for full digital freight train operations. The DAC will be a major game changer for the modal shift to rail necessary to achieve the aspired EU Green Deal objectives.

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