Webinar on FDFTO - Full Digital Freight Train Operations enabled by the Digital Automatic Coupler DAC

Wednesday 13 September 2023, 10:00-12:30 CET Paris Time

Courtesy of DAC4EU

In cooperation with EU-Rail Flagship Project 5 Sounding Board EDDP-European DAC Delivery Programme

EU-RAIL / System Pillar / Task 4

Preliminary Target Operational Procedures

Wednesday 13 September 2023, 10:00-12:30 CET Paris Time


Rail freight automation and digitalisation is an important enabler for the transport sector to meet the EU’s greening targets.

There is a common understanding of the need to strengthen rail freight in Europe, which is in decline today. It is nine times better in terms of CO2 emissions than road transport and will help Europe in achieving its Green Deal and decarbonisation targets.

Electrification of road transport is far from being mature and cost-effective and will still consume seven times more energy than freight transport on rail.

Automation and digitalisation will enable rail freight to become more efficient and attractive for logistics service providers and shippers and will bring relevant benefits for European society in general. It will increase the still underestimated growth potential for single wagonload traffic and strengthen the role of intermodal transport, both strategic segments for the modal shift. Especially, together with future ERTMS developments, they will contribute to increase infrastructure capacity. Their implementation will also increase safety at work and counter the predicted labour shortage in the sector by replacing outdated, mostly manually operated technologies of the past, especially the coupling of freight wagons. . In addition to pneumatic connection, data and power will be provided along the whole freight train by coupling automatically. By this we enable a variety of innovative DAC applications to advance the digitalisation of the freight train and the operational processes, leading to Full Digital Freight Train Operations.
For the introduction of the Digital Automatic Coupler (DAC) and its associated automation and digital technology the sector is committed to work on fulfilling several preconditions before DAC deployment can start.

The focus of this webinar is just referencing to one of the preconditions = operational procedures: To enable the use of new technology uniformly on the one hand and to keep the complexity of FDFTO requirements as low as possible on the other, harmonised operational processes are required for the operation of freight trains. The objective of the Preliminary Target Operational Procedures is to provide the first set of target operational procedures for rail freight agreed throughout Europe. The procedures will define the basis for the technology development for the Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking Flagship Project 5 (FP5)-TRANS4M-R. It describes the target of full automation of the freight sector, as well as a subset based on the agreed technical enablers in FP5-TRANS4M-R.
During the webinar, the current DAC activities as well as initiatives and project will be introduced to the participants. The preliminary Target Operational Procedures will be explained in terms of general content and structure to enable all interested parties to examine them and to provide further input.

Technical report on Preliminary Target Operational Procedures available here:


- PDF - 14.9 Mb


Date and Time

Wednesday 13 September 2023 – from 10:00 to 12:30 CET


Mr Javier Ibáñez de Yrigoyen, EU-RAIL, Senior Programme Manager will introduce the webinar,
Mr Jens Engelmann, EDDP Co-Manager, will open the Webinar,
Mr Andreas Haller, EU-RAIL TRANS4M-R lead of System Architecture,
Mr Frédéric Hénon, EU-RAIL System Pillar lead of task 4 & "Harmonisation of FDFTO Operations"

Intended participants:

All European Railway Stakeholders, especially European Rail Freight Undertakings, and all other interested parties are strongly encouraged to participate to this first Webinar of a series.

Expected Results

European Railway Stakeholders acquire a full overview and knowledge on the development of EU Freight Harmonized Operational Procedures developed by the EU-RAIL FP5-TRANS4M-R project.



Agenda (draft)

  • Introduction (Mr Javier Ibáñez de Yrigoyen)
  • Context and opening (Mr Engelmann)
  • Preliminary Target Operational Procedures presentation (Mr Haller)
  • Next steps/outlook (Mr Hénon)
  • Conclusion (Mr Engelmann)

Disclaimer: This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon research and innovation programme under grant agreement n°101102009 and through the Europe’s Rail System Pillar framework contract 2022/S 145-410963.

Watch the replay:



- PDF - 6 Mb



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Thursday 13 July 2023