Wednesday 22 June 2022

13th World Congress on Railway Research (WCRR) held from 6 – 10 June 2022 in Birmingham, UK

“Reshaping our railways post-pandemic: Research with an impact”

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UIC took part in the 13th World Congress on Railway Research held from 6 – 10 June 2022 at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham, UK, hosted by RSSB and the University of Birmingham and was held under the theme “Reshaping our railways post-pandemic: Research with an impact”.

The event was attended by around 700 participants in person across the global railway research and innovation community, with the aim of exchanging ideas and presenting the latest technology being developed around the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant and long-lasting impact on the rail sector and the congress was an opportunity to discuss how new knowledge and novel solutions generated by research can play a vital role in the recovery. The event programme was organised around a series of plenary, oral and interactive sessions, followed by technical visits on the last day, as well as a masterclass and professional growth programme.

The congress was opened by Luisa Moisio, Director of Research and Development, RSSB and Prof. Clive Roberts, Director, Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), with keynote speeches by Ian Ward, Birmingham City Council, Keir Fitch, Head of Unit, Rail Safety and Interoperability, European Commission and Carlo Borghini, Executive Director, Europe Rail’s Joint Undertaking. The main messages highlighted the importance of coming together to invest in new and novel solutions to get through the recovery, encourage modal shift and deliver great value for money. The message from the EU was its commitment to the decarbonisation of rail transport and recognising that we need to work together to get innovation deployed in a meaningful way, as targets can only be achieved if we work together at global level.

UIC was represented by its Director General François Davenne, as well as a team of 16 directors and experts who moderated sessions and delivered presentations. UIC and its working groups presented a total of 24 papers to the congress (out of a total of 300), on topics spanning a wide range of technical developments, innovations and related issues.

The UIC stand in the Exhibition Hall was the focal point for the communication of UIC’s work to all participants, facilitating meetings with visitors and offering a base for networking with the other members of the railway research and innovation community.

The following papers were presented by UIC:

  • Marcos Conceiçao: Under Sleeper Pads – one of the most cost saving products for tracks in the last 20 years
  • Marie-Hélène Bonneau: Safety4Rails EU project – protecting railway and metro infrastructure against combined cyber-physical attacks; the UIC Rail Security Hub – gateway towards a shared and coherent European railways protection approach and Saving lives at Europe’s level crossings with the SAFER-LC Toolbox
  • Giulia Russo: An effective perspective to highly increase freight efficiency in Europe
  • Isabelle De Keyzer: REUSE project – avoided CO2 from applying circular economy principles in railway industry
  • Frédéric Hénon: Re-engineering railway safety through digitalisation of SMS
  • Vanessa Pérez: Rail customer experience state of the art and medium-term challenges – a holistic approach and The impact of Covid-19 on rail tourism – challenges and future opportunities for the sector
  • Pinar Yilmazer: The role of railways in reversing loss of biodiversity
  • Parinaz Bazeghi: Translate4Rail – removing the language barrier in communication between RU drivers and IM traffic controllers in cross borders – a language tool prototype and Improving safety by connecting level crossings with cars – proof of concept: advanced driver assistance system simulation
  • Mercedes Gutierrez: Definition of a new protocol for the qualification of aerodynamic noise on high-speed trains
  • Philippe Stefanos: IRS 90940 – Data exchange with Driver Advisory Systems (DAS) following the SFERA protocol (Smart communications For Efficient Railway Activities)
  • Lucie Anderton: Inclusive stations – impact of homelessness on railways
  • David Sarfatti: How UIC standardisation facilitates the digitalisation of passenger rail distribution
  • Vassiliki Nikolopoulou: 5Grail paves the way to the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS)

Many of these topics feature in the UIC publication ‘Technical Solutions for the Operational Railway’, available at: https://uic.org/IMG/pdf/20201126_uic_technical_solutions.pdf

A number of UIC directors representing Passenger, Rail System, Standardisation, Europe Region and Sustainable Development moderated sessions on the following themes:

  • Marc Guigon: Accessibility comfort and passenger information
  • Christian Chavanel: Autonomous operations
  • Simon Fletcher: Safety and security
  • Lucie Anderton: Disaster and extreme event countermeasures

On 8 June, UIC Director General François Davenne took part in the second Plenary Session entitled “Research with an impact: celebrating success”, chaired by Luisa Moisio and gave the floor to the other panellists Philippe Citroen (UNIFE), Martin Frobisher (Network Rail), Dr Atushi Furukawa (RTRI), and Kari Gonzales (MxV Rail).

The panel focused on research and development’s contribution to the operation of the railway during Covid-19, moving to a low-emissions railway, and data-driven maintenance and operations and celebrated how rail research continues to enable the industry to optimise its operations and introduce both incremental and radical changes to its assets and processes as well as reflect on recent successes in delivering and implementing research.

François Davenne spoke about UIC’s role in research, such as UIC Leaflets which have helped the rail sector to progress, the achievements in the area of 5G, which will be a game-changer for the industry, applications for freight to make modal shift desirable as well as integrated ticketing to improve the customer experience. He highlighted the role of the UIC Covid-19 Task Force during the pandemic as a collaborative platform that was able to address the crisis by publishing guidelines, sharing knowledge, providing solutions and discussing the lessons learned.
He added that we need to continue to invest in the sector, carry out targeted research, adopt a collaborative approach and think collectively that rail is part of the solution.

The closing ceremony of the technical programme was held on the afternoon of 9 June, led by Luisa Moisio and Clive Roberts, which included the Best Paper Awards and some reflections from WCRR 2022. Delegates were encouraged to think about a number of issues, including better use of data, more discussion on modal shift, end-to-end journeys, rail as the backbone of the transport system, cost issues and affordability, as well as decarbonisation.

During the handover to the next WCRR host, CEO and President of MxV Kari Gonzales announced that the 14th edition of WCRR is planned to take place in Colorado in 2025.

For further information on WCRR please contact Martin Brennan, Head of Research and Innovation: brennan@uic.org
Or Christine Hassoun, Senior Advisor Project Dissemination: hassoun@uic.org

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