The 6th Transport Research Arena (TRA) 2016, the only European transport research conference co-organised by the European Commission covering all surface modes – road, rail and waterborne and their links to airports – was held from 18 – 21 April 2016 at the PGE National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland.
This 2016 edition, following the 2012 edition in Athens and the 2014 edition in Paris, was the opportunity for the International Union of Railways (UIC) and its members to show their continuous investment in research and innovation as part of the development of the future European railway system.
Attended by around 2100 participants involved in research and innovation in transport across Europe, TRA 2016 was organised by the European Commission, the Conference of European Road Directors, and the four European Transport Technology Platforms including ERRAC – the European Rail Research Council – and was hosted by the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure and Development and the Road and Bridge Research Institute (IBDiM) of Poland.
The conference opened on 18 April with introductory presentations by the following speakers:
Mateusz Morawiecki, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Development, Poland
Kazimierz Smolinski, First Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Construction, Poland
Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation
Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport
Jerzy Buzek, Member of European Parliament, Chair of the ITRE Committee
Greg Nadeau, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), USA
Jean-Luc di Paola Galloni, Co-Chairman, European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC), Corporate Vice-President, Valeo Group
Leszek Rafalski, Road and Bridge Research Institute of Warsaw, Poland
In her speech, Violeta Bulc, European Transport Commissioner, said “Why do we innovate – what drives us? What are the needs we need to address? What values are we creating?” She talked about the importance of helping people stay connected and the need to build a reliable, cost-effective and sustainable transport system. Among the projects to focus on she listed decarbonisation, digitalisation, people-focus and globalisation.
Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, participated in the third plenary session on the morning of 20 April dedicated to Energy and Transport: How to meet Decarbonisation, Fuel Security & Efficiency Targets of the Future. The panel also comprised the following energy and transport experts:
Jos Dings, Policy Team Director, Transport & Environment, the Netherlands
Marcus Bollig, BMW Research and Innovation, Germany
Susanne Leifheit speaking on behalf of Jens Ocksen, CEO, Volkswagen Poland
Mario Dogliani, Ministry of Transport, Italy
Robin Nelson, Science Director, Concawe, UK
The session focused in particular on the topics of energy efficiency, alternative fuels, future optimal energy sources and progress in electrification and other clean vehicles.
According to Mr Loubinoux: “Research is regarded as a core and fundamental task of UIC, supporting the efforts of its members in their need to resolve operational questions and problems –
- Through exchange of information based on the results of research projects collected from our members’ efforts
- And from leading rail research institutes and academia, benchmarking and actively carrying out studies and research, development and innovation…
UIC plays a crucial role as driver, disseminator and knowledge manager, as well as a platform for discussion and exchange of experience and best practice… UIC takes a holistic approach, considering the railway system as a whole, and is already preparing the various possible solutions to achieve the future digital railway.” In his concluding remarks, Mr Loubinoux underlined the importance of interoperability and the complementarity of interfaces.
TRA was also the opportunity for UIC, via its own exhibition stand, to promote the technical expertise that can be brought to the development of research and innovation through the European framework programmes. A number of UIC technical specialists gave presentations on the stands of UIC and the European Commission, notably Laurent Schmitt, speaking about the UIC-coordinated Capacity4Rail project (working to achieve an affordable, resilient, innovative and high-capacity European railway system for 2030/2050), Grigore Havarneanu, speaking about security projects such as Graffolution (awareness and prevention solutions against graffiti vandalism in public areas and transport) and Bodega (providing solutions to enhance the performance of border guards), and Jonathan Paragreen, speaking about NeTIRail (developing technologies and best practices tailored to the needs of different categories of rail systems), in which UIC is leading the dissemination.
The BODEGA project (Proactive Enhancement of Human Performance in Border Control) was also presented on the UIC stand. The project aims to enhance the border checks efficiency at Schengen borders and to improve the travelling experience in all transport modes: air, rail, road and maritime. The presentation pointed out the progress on the field studies which are coordinated by UIC and some expected impacts on the solutions to enhance the performance of border guards in view of the EC Smart Border Initiative.
The UIC-coordinated Restrail project was one of the four concluded research projects selected by the European Commission to be presented on the EC stand as a success story during the conference. UIC, represented by Jacques Colliard and Grigore Havarneanu, held a five-minute media briefing session with international and Polish journalists about the project and a live demonstration of the Restrail toolbox (www.restrail.eu/toolbox) was also given during the four-day event.
In addition, the “RESTRAIL Toolbox – An innovative solution for safe, secure and resilient railway operation” was presented by Jerzy Wisniewski and Grigore Havarneanu during the “Rail Infrastructure and Operations” technical session chaired by Yves Amsler from ERRAC.
The UIC-coordinated Capacity4Rail project was also the focus of a dedicated session entitled “Assessment methods for innovative operational measures and technologies for intermodal freight terminals” chaired by Stefano Ricci, from Sapienza University of Rome. The session addressed the topics of reducing transit time in terminals and creating scenarios to improve the way goods are transferred from trucks to trains (and vice versa) in freight terminals.
Highlights of the conference included:
Environment – Decarbonisation; Sustainability and Energy Efficiency; Vehicles and Vessels Technologies; Design and Production; Urban and Long-Distance People Mobility – Systems and Services; Urban and Long-Distance Freight Transport and Logistics; Safe, Secure and Resilient Transport Systems; Transport Infrastructure; Human Factors, Socio-Economics and Foresights; Automation and Connectivity; Enabling for Innovation Implementation.
The conference ended on 21 April with the Conclusions and Overview Session, chaired by Magda Kopczynska, Director for Innovative and Sustainable Mobility at the European Commission. In her conclusions, Mrs Kopczynska stressed the fact that TRA was designed to become an international forum and gave as an example the strong cooperation that already exists between the European Union and the Transportation Research Board (TRB), a US organisation based in Washington, D.C. Neil Pederson, Executive Director of TRB highlighted the many commonalities existing between the US and the European organisation and invited the audience to take part in the forthcoming TRB general assembly.
Chris Irwin, European Policy Advisor to Transport Focus, London, gave a concluding speech on the conference outcome. Mr Irwin stressed a number of important points in his conclusions including:
- Mobility as a fundamental right for all EU citizens
- The issue of funding should never be a barrier to innovation
- Users’ needs must be met in a more affordable and efficient way
- Focus should be placed on the potential of digitisation
The conclusions were followed by the Closing Ceremony, in which Jacek Wojciechowicz, Deputy Mayor of Warsaw, delivered a farewell address. Piotr Stomma, Polish Deputy Minister for Infrastructure and Construction, handed over to the next TRA host, at which point Gerald Klug, Austrian Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology, gave some words of welcome and announced the next TRA conference – which is to take place from 16 – 19 April 2018 at the Reed Exhibitions Messe Wien in Vienna, under the theme of “A Digital Era for Transport – Solutions for Society, Economy and the Environment.”
TRA is an excellent opportunity for all stakeholders in the field of transport, and especially for those dealing with research and innovation, to network and discover new ideas which could pave the way towards tomorrow’s transport system.
UIC will continue to relay the message from all its members about the fundamental role for railways in sustainable mobility for future generations and the need to invest in research and innovation both on a European and global level.
Jean Pierre-Loubinoux’s presentation during the panel discussion on 20 April can be consulted at this link: http://uic.org/com/IMG/pdf/speech_jean-pierre_loubinoux_tra_20_april_2016.pdf