Maintenance and renewal of rail track count for more than 50% of annual maintenance costs for the railway sector. INNOTRACK has been set up to tackle these costs and to improve of efficiency and contribute to the improvement of commercial competitiveness of the rail mode. At the final General Assembly the results of the INNOTRACK projects have been presented.
INNOTRACK has been launched in September 2006 as an integrated research project funded by the European Commission’s 6th research framework. It was intended to assess and improve the life cycle costs and logistics of three key track elements: track substructure, rail and welding, switches and crossings.
The project brought together 36 organisations (rail sector associations, Infrastructure managers, rail supply industry, R&D institutes and universities) and coordinated by the UIC. Together, in a series of working groups, they examined current practice, developed a range of innovations and came up with a series of recommendations that could improve the life-cycle costs of building and maintaining rail infrastructure. INNOTRACK has been focussing on the most common situation namely mixed traffic.
In each area research began by identifying the most important cost drivers for each of the participating infrastructure managers. Failure and cost statistics were scrutinised at expert seminars, root causes investigated and compared at European level. Then, the innovative solutions could be considered to tackle them. In many cases this required deep technical analyses and cutting edge research. The innovative solutions covered also processes such as logistics management for inspection and maintenance as well as methodologies such as improved classification methods for tracks and vehicles, better maintenance limits and methods of assessing life- cycle costs.
The project results are documented in 141 reports of which 15 have been designated as guidelines and focus particularly on practical implementation.
At the INNOTRACK General Assembly, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux UIC Director General underlined “INNOTRACK is a good example of the active part UIC plays in EU funded research projects since 2004, within the 6th and 7th Framework Programs (FP6, FP7), Marco Polo, Leonardo da Vinci and TEN-T programs. 16 ongoing projects are running today in UIC, more than 15 projects has been finalised, 6 proposals have been submitted and 10 prepared to ongoing calls. UIC New organisation and the recently created Rail Systems Forum is a natural part for projects like INNOTRACK.”
The true benefits of INNOTRACK will come with the widespread implementation of the results and recommendations over the next few years and will bring significant savings for the European rail sector. The project manager, Bjorn Paulsson, has visited several infrastructure managers and the supply industry to give an overview of the total INNOTRACK Project, to give information so that railway or industry can easier find valuable results, to discuss implementation and bilateral cooperation and to inform about coming planned activities.
All deliverables will be handed over to the European Commission on 15 February.
Most of the reports are now available at www.innotrack.eu.
A condensed description of the entire project will be available in the Concluding Technical Report which will be published shortly.