digital automatic coupling

DAC implementation might cost 9 times more than expected

Image: © Deutsche Bahn

Current quotations for the costs of implementing a Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) do not take into account many factors that might lead to costs to exponentially increase. Consequently, the current Cost-Benefit Analyses (CBA) need to be revised with a more realistic approach.

This was pointed out by seven associations from Central and Eastern Europe: Žesnad and SPV from Czechia, ZNPK from Poland, Die Güterbahnen from Germany, Hungrail from Hungary, and ZVKV and Aros from Slovakia. Currently, they say that the estimated price to equip rolling stock with an automatic coupler is set at 5,000 euros. With these estimations in mind, the large-scale DAC deployment should cost somewhere around 11 billion euros, which the seven associations define as “likely underestimated”.

For example, when it comes to the 5,000 euro quotation, it is unclear whether this price includes the cost of the electrical device, aka the Digital part of the DAC. “Based on experience in Switzerland, the estimated total cost for the highest, fully-fledged level of the DAC, including installation on a vehicle, can probably reach up to between 40,000 and 45,000 euros”, they claimed.

Revising the Cost-Benefit Analysis

Concerning the revision of the CBA, the seven associations are pointing out the importance of gathering all the data. “For example, for locomotives, there is only a minimum of data available so far and therefore the CBA calculation uses the value ‘0’ for most locomotive data”, the associations explained. In addition, they are questioning the idea of having only one CBA for all European countries while there are remarkable wage differences.

Another issue pointed out by the seven associations is that the CBA took into account time-saving procedures that are not yet fully established yet. “It is not possible to state that the brake test issue has been resolved when it has not yet been determined how the brake blocks or the functionality of the handbrake will be checked”, they stressed. In other words, the CBA should not include uncertain benefits that would significantly increase investment risks.

EU centralised funding is vital

The seven associations are also voicing their concerns about funding for an EU-wide DAC deployment. They are asking for “a viable funding model without negative impact on vehicle owners, service offer, (and) customer satisfaction”. A viable solution would take into account inflation, global conflicts such as the ones in Ukraine and Palestine, and the general global economic downturn. Finally, the seven associations strongly underlined that “loans are not a solution for such a poorly profitable sector”.

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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DAC implementation might cost 9 times more than expected | RailFreight.com
digital automatic coupling

DAC implementation might cost 9 times more than expected

Image: © Deutsche Bahn

Current quotations for the costs of implementing a Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) do not take into account many factors that might lead to costs to exponentially increase. Consequently, the current Cost-Benefit Analyses (CBA) need to be revised with a more realistic approach.

This was pointed out by seven associations from Central and Eastern Europe: Žesnad and SPV from Czechia, ZNPK from Poland, Die Güterbahnen from Germany, Hungrail from Hungary, and ZVKV and Aros from Slovakia. Currently, they say that the estimated price to equip rolling stock with an automatic coupler is set at 5,000 euros. With these estimations in mind, the large-scale DAC deployment should cost somewhere around 11 billion euros, which the seven associations define as “likely underestimated”.

For example, when it comes to the 5,000 euro quotation, it is unclear whether this price includes the cost of the electrical device, aka the Digital part of the DAC. “Based on experience in Switzerland, the estimated total cost for the highest, fully-fledged level of the DAC, including installation on a vehicle, can probably reach up to between 40,000 and 45,000 euros”, they claimed.

Revising the Cost-Benefit Analysis

Concerning the revision of the CBA, the seven associations are pointing out the importance of gathering all the data. “For example, for locomotives, there is only a minimum of data available so far and therefore the CBA calculation uses the value ‘0’ for most locomotive data”, the associations explained. In addition, they are questioning the idea of having only one CBA for all European countries while there are remarkable wage differences.

Another issue pointed out by the seven associations is that the CBA took into account time-saving procedures that are not yet fully established yet. “It is not possible to state that the brake test issue has been resolved when it has not yet been determined how the brake blocks or the functionality of the handbrake will be checked”, they stressed. In other words, the CBA should not include uncertain benefits that would significantly increase investment risks.

EU centralised funding is vital

The seven associations are also voicing their concerns about funding for an EU-wide DAC deployment. They are asking for “a viable funding model without negative impact on vehicle owners, service offer, (and) customer satisfaction”. A viable solution would take into account inflation, global conflicts such as the ones in Ukraine and Palestine, and the general global economic downturn. Finally, the seven associations strongly underlined that “loans are not a solution for such a poorly profitable sector”.

You just read one of our premium articles free of charge

Want full access? Take advantage of our exclusive offer

See the offer

Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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