Shift2Rail gets green light for European DAC programme

Shift2Rail’s governing body has given the green the light for the set-up of the European Digital Automatic Coupler (DAC) Delivery Programme.

The governing board of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking has examined and fully endorsed the European DAC (Digital Automatic Coupler) Delivery Programme proposed by its executive director, voicing the request of the railway sector.


Building upon the outcomes achieved in Shift2Rail’s freight related R&I activities (Innovation Programme 5), and the acknowledged achievements of the sector, the European DAC Delivery Programme will be a unique opportunity for the sector to collectively drive the deployment of technological and operational solutions related to the DAC, by means of a focused and inclusive system approach under the umbrella of Shift2Rail.


Shift2Rail is recognised by the sector as a neutral and independent institutional organisation capable of facilitating broad and unconditional discussions on design selection, impact, transition, migration, deployment and financial aspects. This work will be performed together with the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA), relevant railway associations and technical bodies, under the overall steering of the European Commission.


The programme’s objectives will cover technological assessments of the available solutions, testing and demos, definition of migration plans, assessing the interfaces with other programmes, business cases, and communication and dissemination, aiming to facilitate the deployment of the DAC in Europe. Concretely, it will include:

  • –  the selection of an open, functional, operationally tested, safe and sustainable European DAC model ready for industrialisation and deployment;
  • –  the delivery of a final open design of the selected model, based on use-case considerations by the end of 2021, and its interoperability and safety requirements which could be incorporated into the TSI, Green Deal & Digitalization Package in 2022;
  • –  subject to the results of the ongoing business case analysis, the identification of migration and business plans compatible across Europe as well as the necessary resources to match them.


The programme’s success will be achieved by a step-by-step approach, taking into account the results of initial demonstration activities and national or ad hoc business cases, in order to reach an informed and sector shared decision.


The European DAC Delivery Programme will encompass all actors of the European Railway sector. In addition to endorsing the proposal (available here), the Governing Board requested the Executive Director to ensure that an Interim Working Group is set up without delay under the responsibility of the Head of Research and Innovation together with the future DAC Programme Manager, as well as to duly integrate in the process independent expert views and the Member States.


The activities will start under Shift2Rail, which will provide some programme support within existing contracts and involve the key role of Innovation Programme 5, and are expected to expand substantially under its successor, if successful and approved. Shift2Rail’s successor programme, if approved, is expected to include a large so-called ‘Transforming Project’ dedicated to freight, consolidating the sector’s and the European Union’s commitment to shifting freight to rail, in line with the European Green Deal targets.

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