Thursday 4 March 2010
Rail System

Putting in place the “Track & Structure Sector” of the Rail System Forum

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More than 50 Experts from 28 different Infrastructure Manager Companies participated in three days on track and structure meetings from 2nd to 4th February at UIC.

Starting with the Track Experts Group (TEG) meeting the annual marathon continued on the second day with a joint session TEG & PoSE (Panel of Structural Experts) to conclude with the PoSE meeting on the third day, as usual they will meet again separately in September.

Mr Emilio Maestrini head of the UIC Rail System Department highlighted the importance of the two groups as the back bone of the Track and Structure Sector, one of the five recently created within the new Rail System Forum. Both TEG and PoSE lead respectively by Mr Paul Godart (Infrabel) and Mr Martin Muncke (ÖBB) constitute an exchange global platform between experts from IM(s), they are associated with international projects and contribute to assessing and disseminating results in their field of expertise as well as participating in interactive workshops. In the last years each group has produced more than one state-of-the-Art Report per year.

In particular the TEG manages, develops and promotes technical solutions (products) as well as processes (maintenance operations) to increase the track performance reducing operational costs and minimising the LCC of the assets. The PoSE, more oriented towards structures, is to preserve technical solutions and improve knowledge for the economic design and maintenance of railway bridges and tunnels. Both groups are involved in maintaining high safety standards and make a sizable contribution to transport sustainability and environmental improvement.

Current applications for the Track and Structure Sector are related to: improvement of the wheel/rail interaction, inspection, monitoring and remote evaluation (bridges, tunnels, track conditions, switch monitoring, RCF, cracks propagation and other rail defects detection technologies …), best practices and standardisation (S&C, hollow sleepers, new steel grades, α factor), design and construction (bridges, guardrails on bridges, ballast-less track, noise barriers & vibration), assessment of smoke inside railway tunnels, carrying capacity of existing metal structure.

The three days of meetings permitted the delivery of results from the 2008 action plan; Experts approved the scheduling of the action for the current year and proposed new projects for 2011.

Track Experts received the final reports from “Track Condition Monitoring” and “Under Ballast Mats” projects. A seminar on the results of these two projects is planned in June 2010. They have scheduled to deliver within 2010: five training courses on possible results implementation from the European project INNOTRACK, a report on “Best practices and processes for the organisation and management of rail lubrication” and a study on RCF and Squats: “Periodic grinding according to train frequencies and loads”.

As the total expenses for S&Cs maintenance and renewal works paid out by UIC European railway members (including Norway and Switzerland) may be estimated between 2 and 2.5 Billion € per year, TEG intents to develop in 2011 a UIC project to deliver a high level reference document of guiding principles for Planning and Field engineers to be utilized as a basis for effective S&C maintenance including details for monitoring the conditions of S&C and to establish common ground for lowering maintenance costs. Within the project the UIC leaflet 716 R: “Maximum permissible wear profiles for switches” will also be revised taking into account: tonnages, speeds, axle weights, commonly occurring rail sections and configurations to examine the condition when passing over points and crossing to contribute in the ongoing CEN work to define wear limits in order to guarantee safety against derailment.
In addition the TEG intends to answer the questions if IM(s) really need hard rails up to radii of 5000 m and if they already have enough experience with steel grades 400 and 370. For this scope and to find out a New graph “Radius – Tonnage” for rail steel grade selection generally accepted by IM(s), the TEG has proposed in 2011 to revise the UIC leaflet 721 R including new steel grades, new deterioration phenomena as RCF and new maintenance strategies.
Structural Experts have concentrated their reflection in how to preserve technical solutions and improve knowledge (fatigue and dynamics) for the economic design and maintenance of railway bridges and tunnels, in how to manage the asset (existing structures) and how to actively influence the oncoming EU-codes.

In 2010 and 2011 the structural experts intends to homogenise the design of pipes and culverts taking into account high rail traffic actions and fatigue loads. Pipes are often exposed to very high axle loads and even to overloading of up to 40%. They are presently designed and maintained in different ways in European countries. Their diameter goes up to 2.0 m and when they are placed under the track can often neither be inspected no easily maintained. In 2011 is also planned to revise the UIC Code 778-2. : “Recommendations for determining the carrying capacity of existing metal structures" and produce a new leaflet covering also concrete structure. In fact the leaflet is more than 20 years and needs to be updated taking into account new knowledge as for example with the results from the European project “Sustainable Bridges”.
The next TEG meeting is scheduled in Frankfurt on 5th and 6th October 2010, the next PoSE meeting is scheduled in Bratislava from 28th to 30th September 2010 and the next joint session of the two groups is scheduled in Paris on 2nd February 2011.

At the meetings conclusion the chairmen Paul Godard and Martin Muncke thanked Franco Schiavi for his active support for the TEG and PoSE over the last 7 years in his position of UIC Chargé of Mission for Civil Engineering matters and wished him all the best in his new position with RFI in Italy.

For further information please contact Franco Schiavi: or Bjorn Paulsson:

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Joint session meeting of Track Experts Group and Panel of Structural Experts. From left to right M. Reber, M. Muncke, M. Maestrini, M. Godart and M. Demeersseman
Track Experts Group meeting in Paris on 2nd February 2010