Thursday 25 November 2010
Railway Research

EURAXLES – Guaranteeing Safety through Innovative Axle Design and Maintenance

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EURAXLES, an EU-funded project under the FP7 programme, unites 23 key rail players in a far reaching project that aims to bring the risk of axle failure in rail transport to a minimum, thereby further improving the safe operation of the European interoperable railway system.

In what will be a 3-year R&D project coordinated by UNIFE, the EURAXLES Project celebrated its official launch on 22 November 2010 in Brussels. Realising the necessity of finding an inclusive solution to a European problem, the project brings together the major players in the entire rail sector, including manufacturers, operators, suppliers, and academics. With a potential 3.5 million axles in use today in Europe, the project advocates an innovative and global approach that may be adopted in order to better mitigate the risk of axle failure, a potential threat to the safety of rail.

“This project is one of the major topics on the research agenda in railway technology throughout Europe,” says EURAXLES chairman and CEO of GHH Valdunes Group, Dr Raimund Abele. The project’s main objects are to:

  • Agree on a European level on an innovative axle design approach with an enhanced risk analysis method
  • Develop improved axle protection against corrosion and improved adhesion of coatings Innovative and sustainable coatings
  • Evaluate and improve non-destructive testing inspection methods
  • Optimise life Cycle Cost (LCC) of the wheelset system

With the achievement of its objectives, EURAXLES will allow more precise decisions to be made on axle maintenance and critical safety service intervals. This will have a positive impact on the environment and on the competitiveness of European Industries. According to the European Rail Research Advisory Council ERRAC, “The safety of European Railways is of prime importance not just in terms of the loss of life when a major rail accident occurs, but also in terms of the operation cost of degraded mode after accidents and incidents even when no one is injured which undermines the business case for railways.” The EURAXLES objectives extend to both freight and passenger trains so that customers of European passenger and freight operators will finally benefit from the most reliable and safe mode of transport.

The EURAXLES consortium comprises the main actors in the rail sector who will lay down the knowledge foundations necessary to enable the development of innovative, safe solutions for railway wheelsets with improved reliability and in a cost-effective way. The partners all have a strong desire to promote railway transportation as the safest and most economically competitive land transport mode and the EURAXLES project will help them to further minimise the risk of axle failure.

The project is coordinated by UNIFE and led by a steering committee. In addition to the chairman Dr Raimund Abele (Valdunes) and vice-chairman Dr J. Engelmann (DB AG), whose nomination was proposed by the UIC Rail Systems Department, the steering committee comprises the “7 Work Package leaders”.

Next meetings:

  • EURAXLES Steering Committee: 10 May 2011
  • EURAXLES General Assembly: 8 November 2011

For more information on the EURAXLES project, visit: or contact Hans-Jürgen Geissler, Senior Advisor for Rolling Stock:

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