Thursday 30 June 2022

Successful event held for the UIC Harmotrack Project at the University of Birmingham on 13 and 14 June 2022

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Following the achievement of the project’s plenary meeting in December 2021, another successful event was held for the UIC Harmotrack Project at the University of Birmingham on 13 and 14 June 2022

Hosted by the University of Birmingham and Network Rail, with the support of UIC and SNCF Réseau, the UIC Harmotrack Project held its fifth plenary meeting on 13 and 14 June 2022 at one of the most prestigious academic and research institutions in the world, the University of Birmingham.

The UIC Harmotrack Project Plenary Meeting is organised biannually to gather members of the Harmotrack project and celebrate their achievements. It is also a unique opportunity to strengthen relationships between members from across the globe.

The event was attended by 175 international experts, 60 of whom were physically present, from more than 100 industrial companies and academic and research institutions from all around the globe. The meeting featured roundtable discussions with high-level speakers, special technical presentations from Harmotrack members, technical discussions with SWGs, and technical visits to several state-of-the-art facilities.

The event was officially opened by Danilo Sorrentino, Head of Vehicle-Track Interaction Section at SNCF Réseau, and Clive Roberts, Head of School of Engineering and Director of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education at the University of Birmingham, who welcomed attendees to the university. Thereafter, a short remark by Mercedes Gutiérrez Ferrándiz, Head of Asset Management, Infrastructure and Interfaces with Rolling Stock (UIC), was delivered.

This was followed by roundtable discussions moderated by international journalist, David Briginshaw of the International Railway Journal. The first roundtable discussion deep dived on the topic “How Research, Development and Innovation are changing maintenance activities and regimes”. Speakers included Yann Bezin, Professor and Head of Research of the Institute for Railway Research (IRR) at the University of Huddersfield (UK), Martin Brennan, Special Advisor on Research and Innovation at UIC (France), Anup Chalisey, Professional Head of Infrastructure at RSSB (UK), and Dingqing Li, Executive Director and Senior Scientist, Engineering and Infrastructure Group at MxV Rail (formerly TTCI) (USA).

The speakers presented their main activities, focusing on the challenges of railway maintenance and how research and innovation have changed maintenance regimes over the years. Research and development are the main drivers of railway innovation, yet these main drivers face challenges, including data sharing and technological drivers, and lack support, especially financially, from different bodies. Nonetheless, these challenges are being overcome through collaboration with governments, industrial partners, and academic and research institutions.
The second roundtable discussion focused on the “Importance of technology implementation in enhancing operational safety”. The panel of speakers included Robert Ampomah, Chief Technology Officer at Network Rail (UK), Marco Gallini, Head of Mobile Diagnostics and Maintenance Vehicles Department at RFI (Italy), and Thomas Joindot, Technical Director at SNCF Réseau (France).

The speakers presented their companies’ successes in terms of technology implementation and their strategies for innovation, which included technological and financial investment. They also provided case studies on the challenges of maintaining a diverse rail network and new technologies in maintaining infrastructures.

After the roundtable discussion, special technical presentations were given by selected Harmotrack members. The first presentation was given by Alma Golgota and Nezir Basha of “Aleksandër Moisiu” University, Durres (Albania). They outlined the railway challenges in Albania and the various new technologies they are incorporating to overcome these challenges. They also presented the Transport Sector Strategy and Action Plan 2021-2025 of the Albanian government, in line with the vision of the European Union.

The second presentation was given by Mani Entezami (University of Birmingham), Russell Licence and Sin Sin Hsu (Network Rail) (UK). The group presented their studies on the “Continuous Railway Track and Ride Monitoring Using In-Service Trains”. Carlos Nieva, Head of Production and Verification at ADIF (Spain) gave the final presentation on new technologies used on Spanish railways for maintenance.
The afternoon session was exclusive to Harmotrack members and was devoted to presentations: on the advancement in the Harmotrack project by Danilo Sorrentino; and on the Harmotrack Project Plan by Jessa Mae Llabres (SNCF Réseau).

The sub-working group leaders also gave presentations on the progress of their respective sub-working groups:

  • SWG1-A: Study of correlations between forces and accelerations – Group leader: Fatih Ünlü (SBB CFF FFS, Switzerland);
  • SWG1-B Alpha: Study of filters – Group leader: Fulvio Cianci (RFI, Italy);
  • SWG1-B Beta 1: Study of most dangerous combination of track geometry defects using multi-body simulation – Group leaders: Ali Tajaddini (FRA, USA), Raphael Damasceno Marotta (VLI Logística, Brazil) and Brian Marquis (VOLPE, USA);
  • SWG1-B Beta 2: Study of correlation between track geometry and accelerations using statistical analysis – Group leaders: Emily Greve, David Stolnis (Amtrak, USA), Danilo Sorrentino and Florian Latestere (SNCF Réseau, France);
  • SWG1-B Beta 3: Detection of track geometry defects using machine-learning techniques – Group leaders: Alfonso Panunzio (RATP, France) and Cassandre Diaine (SNCF Réseau, France);
  • SWG1-B Gamma: Study of occurrences and risk analysis, transferring thresholds from reference vehicles to different vehicle and speeds – Group leaders: Nicolas Lestoille (SNCF Réseau, France) and Maciej Pałyga (PKP PLK S.A., Poland);
  • SWG2: Study of optimised use of axle box accelerations – Group leaders: Stanislaw Banaszak (SBB CFF FFS, Switzerland), Olivier Vo Van (SNCF, France), Claudio Somaschini and Egidio Di Gialleonardo (Politecnico di Milano, Italy);
  • SWG3: Study of use of innovative and cheap systems – Group leader: Franck Dadié (SNCF Réseau, France).

The second day of the event was dedicated to technical visits which were enjoyed by over 40 members and non-members.

The technical visits were held across the UK, supported by Network Rail, Loram UK, Omnicom Balfour Beatty, the Manufacturing Technology Centre, and finally the Institute of Railway Research at the University of Huddersfield and the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education.

Network Rail facilitated the Infrastructure Monitoring Fleet visit that was hosted by Loram UK in Derby, and this showcased a number of Network Rail’s measurement fleet. The tour was supported by Omnicom Balfour Beatty, who demonstrated the capabilities of the Plain Line Pattern Recognition system and the track geometry system on board the ‘PLPR1’ vehicle. In addition, the group were able to see one of the ultrasonic inspection vehicles, with eddy current and rail profile technologies, as well as the newly developed S&C visual inspection vehicle. The tour also included a visual showcase of the additional capabilities at the Loram UK site, such as the bogie rotation rig and weigh bridge. Finally, the overhead line and structure gauging calibration structure was discussed before the tour concluded.

The New Measurement Train (NMT) visit, hosted and facilitated by Network Rail, took a group aboard a measurement run on the New Measurement Train from Derby to London Euston along the west coast mainline. Richard Wilkinson-Ford, NMT Delivery Manager, provided a safety brief and introduction to the vehicle, before a tour of the facilities and instrumentation cars was conducted. There was significant interest in both the development car and production car, in which track geometry, non-contact OLE monitoring, video imagery and Plain Line Pattern Recognition systems were all operational. After approx. three hours, the train arrived in London Euston where the group disembarked, and the vehicle continued its recording pattern.

Dr Mo Anwar of The Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry hosted and facilitated a technical visit of the Experiments Laboratory. The MTC was established in 2010 as an independent Research & Technology Organisation (RTO) with the objective of bridging the gap between academia and industry. The MTC supports Network Rail significantly in current and future R&D and the group was able to see current in-flight research projects across rail and the wider industries with which the MTC works. The excellent facilities and capabilities were shared with the group in full, which led to great discussions.

Prof. Adam Bevan facilitated and led a small group around the University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research, under the UKRRIN (UK Rail Research and Innovation Network) banner. The tour showcased the technology and capability of the institute, where vehicle simulations can be conducted in the ‘THoMAS’ simulator. Wheel/rail interface and brake testing can be controlled on the bogie rig (HAROLD) and contact OLE can be tested/simulated at line speed with the ‘PANTHER’ system.

Dr Mani Entezami led the visit at the UKRRIN Centre of Excellence in Digital Systems Digital Systems in the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) at the University of Birmingham. The Centre of Excellence in Digital Systems is part of the UKRRIN, a network of centres supporting new innovation in rail transport. The tour involved a simulation and traffic management laboratory, a train driver simulator, autonomous and robotics facilities, condition monitoring and sensing technologies equipment and current live projects, and finally pantograph and S&C testing rigs.

For further information, please contact Danilo Sorrentino, Head of the Vehicle-Track Interaction section at SNCF Réseau at danilo.sorrentino@reseau.sncf.fr or the Harmotrack Management Team at harmotrack@reseau.sncf.fr

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