UIC participates in the official presentation of ERSAT satellite technology system in Cagliari, Italy

Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, participated on 24 February in Cagliari, Sardinia, in the official launch of ERSAT, a last generation system which, first in Europe, interfaces and integrates railway technology – the ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) signalling system – with GALILEO, the satellite navigation and tracking system.

He said:

I am delighted to be here in Cagliari to attend the presentation of a system that will move railway signalling forward into the world.

Today Cagliari is the centre of the railway world. Speaking on behalf of UIC I will be commenting on both a global and technical level. The use of satellites for train localisation, in the context of future radio transmission of movement authority, will certainly promote the adoption of ERTMS and GSM-R. It will revitalise railway system operations wherever big investments, which are required for today’s approach for current ERTMS levels 1 and 2, are not sustainable. We are talking about secondary lines, inter-city main lines in desert areas and so on.

Many different control train systems have been developed in the world. Different approaches have shown their strengths, and their weaknesses. But all in the end have positively contributed to the safety of the rail system. Whatever the system or the technology, knowing the speed and position of a train, as well as its integrity, is a must for safety, and can become very relevant for the optimisation of line capacity, which all operators aspire to.

The technology available at the start simply cuts the rail line in various sections. The use of axle counters or track circuits to detect sections occupied by trains without any active help by the train itself – I’m talking about the present and a large majority of lines are still operated in this way. A certain number of so-called detecting devices these principles and algorithms – proven in service – still prevail.

In some countries, new digital devices for train detection have been implemented trackside: increasing performance, safety and maintainability, but their cost remains high and therefore their dissemination is limited.
In parallel to all this rolling stock and infrastructure have changed a lot, challenging the old technology of track circuits or axle counters with shunting defects or disruption. At the same time, new technology has produced a new generation of on-board train control systems with so-called self-control and reporting of the train’s speed and position to the train control centre.

The gradual adoption of satellite-based positioning systems, whether GPS, EGNOS, GLONAS, Galileo, will help problems of train detection, notably in long-runs or in areas not sufficiently urbanised. In turn, the satellite itself can become the only source of information for train positioning, as in SATLOC. And as I mention SATLOC, allow me to pay tribute to the memory of Gheorghe Barbu. He has now gone to the stars but his light still enlightens us.

So SATLOC, or also in the Russian system used in the Black Sea. It can also provide complementary information to be integrated with other sensors or sub-systems, like in ERSAT, which we are promoting today.

Satellite positioning and driverless operations are now becoming a reality both in air and sea traffic control, in the new concept cars such as Tesla and Google cars – so there is no reason not to integrate and use this technology in rail operations, and this is now the case with ERSAT, SATLOC, or, as I said, on the Adler, in the Black Sea.
SATLOC, in particular, was the first to develop the virtual balise in the pre-charged road map, so as to ease integration with ERTMS without modifying its overall structure.

UIC has been a leader in the development of SATLOC, and is proud to contribute to this digital revolution. We are the technical leader in the development of the Future Rail Mobile Communication System (FRMCS), which is the only system which will include a future channel for the direct transmission via satellite of train movements, in accordance of course with all protocols – with nothing to install on the track anymore, just on the vehicles – this is a fantastic benefit. But it has to be managed with the real standardisation of the GRTMS on-board unit, including interfacing with the on-board virtual balise reader. A local standard OBU (On Board Unit) will boost the implementation of GRTMS level 3 satellite in future regional low-traffic lines, but before expansion of the system.

Yes, my friends, we are going global and now call the system GRTMS (Global Rail Traffic Management System) to make the most and best between what is done in our old, wonderful Europe, and what has been developed in other regions of the world, where ERTMS has become a reference. And by the way, together with FSI we are organising the first GRTMS conference in Milan in April 2018. In Brussels I was the first to say that I will not organise the 13th ERTMS conference, but the first GRTMS conference. And this is now going to come true.

When we look at our global digital future at UIC we believe that our suppliers and friends will need to adapt from a number of closed, regional markets towards a single market for train control. Hopefully, with the input of Shift2Rail a convergence towards hardware and software standards and platforms will enable different requests to be answered from different networks and operators with low-cost standardised devices in accordance with, once again, existing signalling logics.

Just look at what is happening today with the industrial standard gauge for the development of safety critical applications. Or just the Android operating system on all your mobile telephones. So let us move forward together towards this digital future for the railways of our world. Let us build this new business strategy in a digital world.

And I will conclude with a quote by Victor Hugo, who was French but who loved Italy, who said at the beginning of the 19th century: There will come a time with no other battlefields than markets opening up to the roads of trade and minds opening up to the gates of ideas. I will be happy if UIC can modestly contribute to build this future based on our past and present experience and on our philosophy to open, to share and to connect, together.

You can also watch this video:

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UIC participates in the 70th anniversary of the UNECE Inland Transport Committee (Geneva, 21 February 2017)

On the occasion of the ITC, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of UIC was invited to participate in the 70th Anniversary of the UNECE Inland Transport Committee, in the presence of ministers and organisations such as OTIF, ITF, IRU, OSJD, CAREC, etc.

The conference, held for four days in Geneva (20 – 24 February 2017), gave participants the opportunity to share their vision of the importance of the evolution in transport, and underline the connection between interoperability, mobility, ecology, sustainable development, intercontinental connectivity.

Jean-Pierre Loubinoux reiterated the commitments of the railway community through UIC in terms of energy savings. He also highlighted the role of railways on the evolution of transport, on economic and ecologic aspects during a ministerial lunch.

He particularly focused on the need to develop a common approach thanks to synergy, complementary and integration, by recalling the motto of UIC’s action: Share, Open, Connect.

The committee encouraged the governments to underline their support concerning the convention signed during the day to facilitate mobility in a safe and ecological way.

The international cooperation was also underlined to support the development of corridors.

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UIC participates in Global Road Safety Film Festival held from 20 – 21 February 2017 at UNECE, Geneva

The meeting was held under the Presidency of Mr Jean Todt, President of FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile – International Automobile Federation), and the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety.

Mr Todt reminded the audience that this festival hosted by the UNECE had been organised in the framework of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the UNECE Inland Transport Committee (established in 1947). There are 58 inland transport conventions aiming to improve safety of road users, vulnerable users and to make transport of dangerous goods safe.

He first addressed the audience of over 100 people on road safety and introduced the event that took place at the Palais des Nations with participants from 61 countries: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Senegal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Uruguay, USA, Vietnam, Yemen.

Over 260 films were received from 41 countries (15 of which were new countries) among which 232 films were pre-selected by the Selection Committee:
The film competition was divided into four different categories:

  • Communication (most films on the use of mobile phones, seat belts)
  • Education (under which ILCAD 2016 video was submitted)
  • etc.

He welcomed the High-Level Jury of this festival:

  • Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary & Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
  • Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (CIO)
  • Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Michelle Yeoh, Actress, Jean Todt’s wife and Goodwill Road Safety Ambassador
  • He mentioned the film on road safety “Save Kids Lives to advocate for road safety” produced by Luc Besson, Film director, screenwriter and producer who sent his apologies for not attending the event due to professional duties in Los Angeles.

    This High-Level Jury was supported by the Selection Committee when choosing the best road safety films for projection at the festival:
  • Robert Trottein, President of LIFE, organising the film festival:
  • Eva Molnar, Director of UNECE Sustainable Transport Division
  • Joop Goos, General Manager of the Global Festival, Former President of Prevention Routiere Internationale (PRI) (International Road Safety Organisation)
  • Luciana Iorio, Chair of the Working Party on Road Traffic Safety (WP.1)
  • Bentley Jenson, Associate Information Officer, Sustainable Transport Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
  • Sophie Corret, President of The European Youth Forum for Road Safety (EYFRS) European Commission, President General Delegate of LIFE
  • Other members:

UIC had submitted the ILCAD video 2016 “Do not overestimate your abilities near railway tracks” co-produced with LDz (Latvian railways):

Isabelle Fonverne, UIC, Member of UNECE WP1 and the Expert Group on level crossing safety had the opportunity to explain to the audience the reasons for such a video.

The following ILCAD partners had also submitted a video on level crossing safety under the same category “Education”:

  • Commission of Ireland, Irish Rail, RSA
  • University of Zagreb, Faculty of Transport and Science, Croatia

that submitted the following educational video “Safe with Andrew on the Way to School” dedicated to children in primary school. It shows how children should behave around traffic using the example of how they can get to school safely. The character “Andrew” advises the children on what to look out for, what is dangerous in traffic and how to behave around traffic. The video was produced within the project “Implementation of measures to increase the safety of the most vulnerable road users at level crossings.” The project is part of the National Road Traffic Safety Programme of the Republic of Croatia 2011-2020. It is also a joint work of the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences and HZ INFRA (Croatian Railways) plus students from the faculty who were involved in making the video.

Her Excellency Madam Violetta Bulc, European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport and Miss Sophie Corret, President of the European Youth Forum for Road Safety (European Commission) and President General Delegate of LIFE presented the award to Danijela Baric, from the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences of the University of Zagreb, Croatia, winner of the best European Union film “Safe with Andrew on the way to school”
For the complete list of winners at the festival:

For further information please contact Isabelle Fonverne, UIC Senior Safety Advisor:

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UIC participates in West Coast Rail Conference (Los Angeles, 28 February – 2 March 2017)

Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, is participating today in Los Angeles via video message in the West Coast Rail Conference organised by USHSR, the American High Speed Rail Association. His message is given during the session “High speed rail around the world”.

He says: “As an observer of global trends, UIC – which I represent – must have a strong vision of the future. This means that investments must be planned in advance.
UIC can help you to take the best decisions. In fact, we’re already doing it. These decisions are to be taken today, but they are for the future and you/we have to do it right.

This means thinking about intermodality, accessibility and the optimisation of resources offered by high speed.

This also means providing society with solutions to the kind of mobility that we can expect over the next 20-30 years.

The developments that we see in California today, will be decisive for the development of high speed on the entire American continent.
If one misses this turn, it is the American citizen who will be deprived of all the fundamental advantages offered by high speed.

In this context, UIC can help American US HSR actors to continue and to accompany them in this development, in order to do it even better.”

More information on this message via this video:


Building and running a resilient railway: UIC RailAdapt project

Call for Abstracts – RailAdapt Workshop to be held in Beijing from 19 – 20 June 2017 – hosted by CR, Chinese Railways

RailAdapt is a UIC initiative aimed at keeping UIC Members informed and prepared, in support of national Adaptation Plans, UN agreements such as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions and EU encouragement to reduce risks and costs whilst improving railways’ resilience in the face of Climate Change. Building resilience in transport has been given a boost since the United Nations climate negotiations in Paris (COP 21) and Marrakech (COP 22), where all of the world’s governments agreed to develop adaptation plans. Railways will play no small part in this.

UIC is supporting its members by arranging a series of fact-finding and briefing workshops during 2017. UIC is inviting members and other key stakeholders to share experiences and outline what support railways have and will need from governments and investors to help make the case and secure funding for improving the resilience of rail services.

The themes of the workshop aim to include:

  • Weather resilience experiences
  • Challenges of coastal operation
  • Challenges of highland operation
  • Micro-climate impacts
  • Rolling stock resilience
  • Infrastructure resilience
  • Bridges and earthworks
  • Asset vulnerabilities
  • Freight operations issues
  • Urban and suburban rail
  • Multi-modal challenges
  • Economics
  • Investment planning
  • Policy priorities
  • Future climate information
  • National and international policy
  • Safety and resilient operations
  • Future expectations of service
  • Best practice approaches
  • Other topics on rail resilience, natural hazards and future climate

Programme and call for abstracts
Each day will have a plenary session, containing a keynote speaker and up to four other speakers, followed by three parallel themed discussion sessions in which up to three further speakers will be invited. Poster presentations will also be available in each of the themed discussion sessions and during the coffee and lunch breaks.
Abstracts of up to 300 words are now invited on any of the topics of the workshop, from which speakers and posters will be selected for the various sessions. Please submit your title and abstract through the UIC website.

Key dates:
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 8 May
Notification of acceptance: 29 May
Workshop: 19 – 20 June

Registration and call for abstracts
Do not hesitate to register and submit your call for abstracts here

Please know that places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

For further information please contact Nick Craven, Head of the UIC Sustainable Development Unit:

Or Marie-Luz Philippe, Advisor for Sustainable Development & UIC African Region:

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UIC Railway Asset Management Conference

The Asset Management Sector within the International Union of Railways (UIC), together with the Asia-Pacific Region, will organise an International Conference dedicated to Asset Management in Brisbane, Australia from 6-7 April 2017.

The conference will be organised in conjunction with AMPEAK 2017, the Australian professional Association on Asset Management, and aims to enable an open, relevant and comprehensive exchange of information, between railway members, showing the results of the UIC Asset Management Working Group.

The dissemination of the recently issued “ISO 55001 Application Guide for Railway Infrastructure Organisations” will be one of the main subjects, whose main objectives are to:

  • Explain the context of ISO 55001 and the relevance of an Asset Management System;
  • Explain each requirement of ISO 55001, within a railway context, and suggest evidence requirements or ‘artefacts’ that can be used to support the seeking of compliance with or certification to ISO 55001;
  • Provide an outline of the sequential approach to implementation of ISO 55001 and to assist railway organisations in preparing for a certification audit.
  • UIC provides a strong platform for worldwide exchange in Asset Management, for our members and mainly for the railway industry, for new and experimented staff, in this discipline.
  • We expect to hear the latest developments across the Asset Management world, with speakers from outside the railway sector and from different continents to enrich the knowledge and experience of participants.

UIC is pleased to invite your representatives to attend the conference.
Looking forward to your attendance at this interesting conference.


More info at:

For further information please contact Teo Gradinariu, Senior Advisor Rail System Department:

Or Béatrice Ségéral, Senior Advisor Institutional Relations:


Third Conference on Rail Telecoms to be held from 17 – 18 May 2017 at Paris Headquarters

Register now!

The International Union of Railways (UIC) is organising in cooperation with the Railway Operational Communications – Industry Group (ROC-IG) the Third Conference on Rail Telecoms, from 17 – 18 May 2017 at Paris Headquarters.

Over 200 participants from several countries from the areas of telecoms and signalling domains, authorities and standardisation bodies, railways and rail transport experts and strategy decision makers are expected to attend this third international conference.

This edition will be the first to deal with the transition from GSM-R to FRMCS: On track for Evolution and Convergence aims to meet the current needs as well as new features enabling rail to evolve towards digitalisation. It aims at enabling open, relevant and comprehensive exchange of information.

The programme of the Third World GSM-R Conference On Rail Telecoms will be as follows:

  • Session 1: Setting the scene
    with keynote speakers from UIC, EU, ERA, ETSI, ROC IG
  • Session 2: From Network to Applications
    Managing Rail Assets and allowing evolution from vertical to horizontal Rail Transport Applications.
  • Session 3: An Intelligent Transport Ecosystem
    The Smart Transport challenge will address the passenger’s experience through the whole chain of the Transport System.
  • Session 4: At the heart of the technological evolution of the Rail Transport System
    From GSM-R to an IP based Rail Transport System. Rail System will have to support the transition from GSM-R to various Radio Access Technologies while covering the users’ expectations.
  • Session 5: Seeking for Convergence
    Embrace the synergies based on technical as well as Geographical Convergence.
  • Session 6: Managing the Transition
    Introducing new applications as required by the modern Rail Transport System while building on existing interoperability experience and future EU legal framework to achieve it.
  • Session 7: Ensuring Service Continuity
    Guaranteeing the Continuity of Service, ensuring Cybersecurity, allowing Failsafe Redundancies.
  • Session 8: Closing Session

A suppliers’ exhibition with advertising booths will be arranged during the event.

We look forward to meeting you at the conference!

You can find more information on the conference website:
Or contact:

Mouna Bennouna:

Liesbeth de Jong:

News from UIC members

Canada: Ottawa Airport Rail Link project gets go ahead from the city

Following extensive public consultation and preliminary engineering work, the City of Ottawa officials have announced plans to move forward with the Stage 2 Light Rail Transit Project.

The Stage 2 LRT Project will extend light rail further and faster to the West, South and East:

  • Confederation Line West: beyond Bayshore to Moodie Drive, and southwest to Algonquin College;
  • Confederation Line East: beyond Place d’Orleans to Trim Road;
  • Trillium Line extension to Bowesville and Riverside South; and
  • An Airport Rail Link from South Keys Station on the Trillium Line

The Stage 2 expansion of the O-Train network will be undertaken through two new procurements:

  • A new $2.5-billion Design-Build-Finance competition for the Confederation Line East and West extensions (includes Airport, Trim and Highway 417, and City-bundled works); and
  • A new $535-million Design-Build-Finance-Maintain competition for the Trillium Line extension

Upon approval of this report by Council, the project will go to market later this winter. A final report will be brought forward in early 2018 outlining the results of the procurement process and related activities, leading to the final design and beginning of construction. The Stage 2 project will proceed with staggered openings to allow for faster expansions to LRT service:

  • Trillium Line South extension in 2021
  • Confederation Line East including Trim in 2022
  • Confederation Line West to Moodie by 2023

The Stage 2 LRT Project budget is $3 billion (excluding the Trim Extension with one station at $160 million, and the Airport Rail Link with two stations at $155 million).

The Trim and Airport extensions will only proceed if they are fully funded by the federal and provincial governments; on June 3, 2016 the province of Ontario has committed to covering half of the capital costs for both of these projects.

(The Global AirRail Alliance)

News from UIC members

United States: Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman calls for new era of infrastructure investment

In a hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security, Amtrak President and CEO Wick Moorman called for a new era of investment in Amtrak’s infrastructure, fleet, and stations, which are critical to the operations and future growth of passenger rail.

“The time is now to invest in our aging assets,” Moorman testified. “More than ever, our nation and the traveling public rely on Amtrak for mobility, but the future of Amtrak depends on whether we can renew the cars, locomotives, bridges, tunnels, stations and other infrastructure that allows us to meet these growing demands.”

Moorman noted that in fiscal year 2016 Amtrak had record ridership of more than 31 million passengers and ticket revenues of $2.2 billion. “I’m certain that we can get even better by relentlessly improving our safety culture, modernizing and upgrading our products and strengthening our operational efficiency and project delivery.”

Moorman stressed that Amtrak’s job is to deliver the services and run the network that Congress and the Administration – the principal stakeholders – believe is worth the investment.

To do so, Amtrak needs additional support from Congress and the Administration. After 45 years of service, many of Amtrak’s assets are at the end of their useful life. For example, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, with 363 miles of Amtrak-owned infrastructure, is North America’s busiest railroad with 2,200 daily high-speed, commuter and freight trains, but was largely built over 100 years ago.

Noting that Amtrak’s list of investment needs is long, but provides considerable benefits to the traveling public and the national economy, Moorman outlined projects that warrant significant investment including:

  • Construction of the Portal North Bridge and new Hudson Tunnels, both parts of the larger Gateway Program that will ensure that 450 daily Amtrak and NJ Transit trains can continue to serve New York City from the south;
  • Construction of new B&P Tunnel and Susquehanna Bridge in Maryland to expand service and improve trip-time;
  • Expansion and improvement of Chicago and Washington Union Stations to improve accessibility, expand capacity, spur local development and enhance safety;
  • Construction of fleet of new or rebuilt diesel locomotives to support Amtrak’s National Network; and
  • Construction of track, signaling, and other improvements to remove chokepoints on our host railroads or restore service in key underserved markets, like along the Gulf Coast.

Additionally, Moorman emphasized the importance of the 21 states and various commuter agencies that Amtrak partners with to provide service on corridors across the country and on the Northeast Corridor. He noted that Amtrak is focused on identifying ways to work even more collaboratively with these states and agencies on the long list of important rolling stock, infrastructure, and funding needs.

Moorman urged Congress and the Administration to consider the many ways in which the Federal government can advance intercity passenger rail service through direct investments, public-private partnerships and innovative financing, streamlining of the environmental review process and removal of red tape.

Moorman added that such rail infrastructure investments not only help Amtrak better serve passengers, but also stimulate job growth in construction, manufacturing, and professional services. Rail cars, locomotives, steel, concrete, machinery, signals and track are sourced from across the nation. “Investments in these sectors can help spur the rebirth of America’s passenger rail manufacturing and supply sector,” he concluded.

(Source: Amtrak)

News from UIC members

Russia: Russian Railways and Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare start joint project in Far East

The President of Russian Railways Oleg Belozerov has held a working meeting with the Deputy Minister of Japan’s Health, Labour and Welfare Kazuo Futagawa.

During their talks, the two men paid particular attention to the prospects of a project to create a Russian-Japanese Centre for Preventive Medicine And Diagnostics at the Russian Railways’ Clinical Hospital in Khabarovsk in Russia’s Far East.

Following the meeting, the two sides agreed on further cooperation and expressed their interest in joint projects in this direction.

“I believe that our cooperation is very important. We are ready to offer our Japanese partners a solid infrastructure and a clinical and client base to create joint medical projects in Russia, as well as unique expertise in the field of transport and production medicine,” said Oleg Belozerov.

In December 2016, Russian Railways and Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare signed a memorandum on cooperation in the field of medicine and healthcare.

(Source: RZD)

News from UIC members

Japan: Sales of Tateyama Kurobe OptionTicket for foreign travellers

Travel the Tateyama Kurobe Alpen Route on Hokuriku Shinkansen!

This year once again East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and West Japan Railway Company (JR West) will sell the convenient “Tateyama Kurobe Option Ticket (One-way)” to foreigners travelling the Tateyama Kurobe Alpen Route.

This optionticket enables foreign travellers to economically visit the Alpine Route from Nagano Station/Toyama Station when it is used together with convenient tickets such as the “Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass,”which is sold to foreigners travelling to Hokuriku.

Enjoy the dramatic panorama that changes in each season viewed from the Northern Alps Tateyama mountain range and create wonderful memories of travel in Japan.

(Source: JR East)

News from UIC members

United Kingdom: World’s first “formation flying” engineering trains will upgrade the railway faster and cheaper

In a bid to increase efficiencies and reduce delays for passengers, Network Rail is trialling “formation flying” engineering trains to repair and renew the 20,000 miles of railway track it’s responsible for maintaining. The new approach to engineering could potentially save taxpayer-funded Network Rail £250,000 per week in costs by allowing trains to run at higher speeds once engineering is complete.

The pioneering technique was successfully used at Sandy, Bedfordshire, on a set of railway switches and crossings in February (5/2), which were being replaced as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan.

Passenger journeys can often be disrupted after major track upgrades as the first week of trains to travel over freshly lain track are forced to do so at restricted speed until the ballast – the stones beneath the track that give support – has settled and formed a solid foundation. Network Rail then has to pay compensation to the train operators for the financial impact of this disruption.

But at Sandy, for the first time in history, a pair of engineering trains were joined together connected by an umbilical and ran in parallel to simultaneously deliver tamping and dynamic track stabilisation (DTS) which simulated the equivalent of 200 trains passing over the tracks consecutively. Passenger trains were then able to start using the railway at speeds as high as 125mph as soon as the engineering team had finished because the track and ballast were firmly ‘bedded in’ – which meant Network Rail avoided thousands of pounds in compensation payments.

The news comes almost one year after Network Rail’s first successes with 125mph ‘high speed handbacks’ in January 2016 on ‘regular’ plain line track.

It’s estimated that over £5m has already been saved by avoiding compensation payments since the start of the ‘high speed handback’ programme.

Expanding on those techniques, the work at Sandy was also Network Rail’s first time delivering a high speed handback on a crossing – the most complex part of a switches and crossing layout. The crossing creates a gap in the rail for the train wheel to pass through once the switch – the moving blades that allow the train to switch tracks – have been set.

Track monitoring and installation practices have improved significantly in the last few years. The key to achieving a high speed handback is ‘progressive assurance’ to ensure track is installed at each stage to its specific design tolerances, that care is taken while tamping to get the track to its final exact co-ordinates and that welding is completed as part of the core work rather than scheduled for a later date.

Network Rail’s programme director for track, Steve Featherstone said: “We monitored the work at Sandy during the weekend and had progressive assurance throughout to make sure we built everything to the highest possible quality levels. This allowed trains to run at 125mph right away – the first time we’ve achieved this on a crossing.

“Our high speed handback journey started three years ago. We have been continually improving, systematically getting better at every aspect of what we do. We have progressively built the knowledge and competence to handback plain line, high output and switches and crossing renewals at 125mph, which will save Network Rail hundreds of thousands of pounds in reduced fees to train operators for disruption caused.

“Ultimately this is about passengers. Our new techniques mean we can handback the railway safely, on time and with no speed restrictions meaning passengers get to their destination on time and as planned.”

This improved approach delivers significant benefits for passengers, the workforce, Network Rail, train operators and the millions of taxpayers who help fund the railway:

  • Faster trains means reduced delays and journey times for passengers
  • Staff spend less time trackside as they don’t need to set up and remove speed boards for train drivers
  • Reduced need for compensation to train operators as disruption is reduced

(Source: Network Rail)

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News from UIC members

Finland: Consultants chosen to study feasibility of Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel

The FinEst Link project is a cooperation between Finland and Estonia in examining the development of the transport link and the feasibility of a railway tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn. The bodies to perform the consultancy work for this EU funded project have now been selected and the results are to be expected during 2017.

Consortium of five companies to evaluate profitability and impacts
The profitability and the impacts of the tunnel project will be evaluated by a consortium that consists of Ramboll Finland, Sito, Strafica, Urban Research and Pöyry Finland. The consortium will provide information on whether there are grounds for designing the railway tunnel or whether the long-term option of only developing the current maritime services and connections to the ports of Helsinki and Tallinn is more profitable.

The report estimates the volumes of passenger and freight transport regarding both options. Commuting is studied separately. The consortium will conduct an extensive impact and cost-benefit study on both options. The evaluation will decipher the impacts on the transport systems and the development strategies in both countries, in addition to the economic effectiveness and the regional impacts on the local population and public economy.

Three consultants to study technical and economic feasibility
The second report will be conducted by Sweco, WSP and the Swiss Amberg Engineering that was involved in the designing of Saint Gotthard and Brenner tunnels, amongst others. The report will examine the technical and economic feasibility of the undersea railway tunnel.

The consultants will define the general outline of the tunnel, in addition to the locations of the stations and the railway depots. Furthermore, the report will examine the best way to connect the tunnel traffic to the public transport in the cities and to the current and future railway networks in both countries.

An important part of the report is defining the safety aspects of the long railway tunnel. In addition, the report will provide valuable information about the construction and maintenance of the tunnel and the costs of the railway traffic.

We received high-quality offers from large planning groups that have international expertise in carrying out large transport projects and assessing their impacts and, moreover, have local expertise in both countries, Project Manager Kari Ruohonen describes.

Ten applications in total participated in the tender.

Thorough research enabled by EU funding
The thorough research work on the feasibility of the tunnel project was enabled by the EU funding under the Interreg Central Baltic programme. The overall budget of the two-year FinEst Link project is 1.3 million euros. The project is led by the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council in cooperation with the city of Helsinki, the Finnish Transport Agency, the city of Tallinn, the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Harju County Government.

The city of Helsinki is responsible for studying the impacts of the project and the Finnish Transport Agency is responsible for studying the technical and economic requirements of the tunnel option. Finnish and Estonian partners will participate in funding and conducting the report.

The partners in this project will hold a start-up meeting in Tallinn on February 14-15.

One large labour market and economic area
Helsinki and Tallinn together constitute an economic area of busy freight traffic and nearly 1.5 million people. A growing number of commuters and leisure travellers travel between the two cities. Last year, a record of 10 million passengers arrived at the port of Tallinn. Weekly, ten thousands of people commute between the cities. In the tunnel, the 90-km train journey would take about 30 minutes.

A cooperation agreement between Finland and Estonia was concluded at ministerial level last year in order to boost the tunnel project.

The results of the studies are published at

(Source: FTA)

News from UIC members

France: SNCF confirms its order of 15 TGVs from Alstom

The SNCF Mobilités Board of Directors met this Thursday, 23 February and was able to approve the order of 15 double-decker Océane TGVs. This order is in addition to an order of 40 Océane TGVs currently being delivered by the same manufacturer. These 15 new trains will be put into service in 2019 and 2020 on the Paris-Bordeaux route.
TGV Océane will now have a fleet of state-of-the art trains with the highest possible capacity (556 seats).

These 15 TGVs will replace older trains, some of which are more than 35 years old. This will allow SNCF to save €150 million, which was set aside for the renovation of 24 existing trains.

The 15 trains will be equipped with a new automatic speed control system, in line with the very latest European standards (ERTMS) currently being developed by ANSALDO on behalf of ALSTOM. This system will naturally have to be approved by the French Railway Safety Authority (EPSF). This is a standard procedure for all new technological innovations.

The first six trains will be delivered in 2019, and the following nine in 2020. As of this time, the old trains will be removed from the TGV Atlantic fleet.

(Source: SNCF)

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UIC e-News Legal Editor: Marie Plaud
Coordination: Helen Slaney
Editorial team: UIC e-News Team, Paris 28 February 2017

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