Deutsche bahn wants to significantly increase its market share in freight transport with the introduction of an automatic coupler and become more competitive compared to trucks.
The aim is to increase the market share from 18 to 25 percent, which would correspond to 25 million truck trips per year, said sigrid nikutta, member of the executive board of guterverkehrs, at the presentation of prototypes of the new coupling in minden, westphalia, to dpa.
The research project to develop the digital automatic coupler is being funded by the federal ministry of transport to the tune of 13 million euros. In addition to the german railroads, the swiss and austrian guterbahn and private wagon owners are involved in the project. The aim is to have all good wagons in europe replaced by 2030. The costs for this are estimated at 1 to 1.5 billion euros in germany and a total of 6.5 to 8.5 billion euros in europe.
With the new coupler, longer and heavier trains could reach their destination faster with less effort and cost, said nikutta. The capacity in the marshalling yards increases by 40 percent. The number of freight trains in single freight car traffic has been reduced from the current 9,000 to 27,000.000 per week could be increased, nikutta said. "My goal is to get more mass into the system and to grow in single freight car traffic."
Single wagonload traffic, in which freight trains with wagons from different industrial customers are put together and then shunted apart again in the destination region and distributed to other trains, has long been a problem child of the railroads because of its rough terrain. The main competitor is the truck, which often gets good goods to their destination faster and at lower cost. "We want to maintain and expand the single car system," nikutta stressed, adding that the new coupler is a prerequisite for this.
Decades ago, the railroads had already been researching without success for standardized automatic couplings, most recently in the seventies. Freight cars are currently still being coupled and uncoupled manually. The automatic coupling system will also have a digital data line for all wagons, which will allow the temperature in refrigerated food wagons, for example, to be monitored continuously from a distance.
Over the next few months, the research project plans to test twelve railcars at DB systemtechnik in minden using couplings from different manufacturers. After the selection of a coupling, a test train with 24 wagons is to travel for several months through germany, austria, switzerland and other european countries. The refurbishment of the railcars is scheduled to begin in 2023, the cost per railcar is estimated at 15.000 to 17.000 euro estimated. Deutsche bahn wants to cut around 60.000 wagons to be reshuffled, 490 across europe.000 freight cars and 17.000 locomotives. DB board member nikutta said that the project was likely to receive support from the european union as part of the green deal.