Winter testing of the automatic coupling began at Luleå railway station at the end of 2020. The tests form part of the FR8RAIL IV subproject of the EU Shift2Rails programme and the goal is to develop a standard for automatic couplings for freight wagons that can be implemented in Europe. The EU's objective is for all freight wagons to be fitted with automatic couplings by 2030.
Although the technology for automatic couplings was developed in the early 20th century, freight trains are still coupled manually with screw couplings, which is a time-consuming and risky process. Automatic couplings can make rail transport more efficient by enabling the introduction of other new technologies for freight wagons and creating a better working environment for operators.
The tests of the automatic coupling are taking place in the far north of Sweden to ensure that it functions under tough conditions. The tests in Luleå involved the Swedish Transport Administration, CLOSER, GreenCargo and RISE. The role of CLOSER in the project is to support the Swedish Transport Administration by providing project management services.
-Now the tests have started and winter has really arrived in Luleå. We've had almost too much winter weather with temperatures as low as -30 degrees in the second week, says Jonas Eriksson, the project manager at CLOSER.
The winter tests will continue during early 2021 and an online conference will take place in February to present the results.