4 April 2013 marked the date of the 4th IRRB Web Conference during the mandate of Chairman Mr Boris Lapidus of RZD-VNIIZhT. The main focus of this meeting was to review the activities carried out in 2012 and to focus on the progress during 2013 and to plan the activities for 2014.
17 participants from all UIC regions participated actively in the web based meeting, while in addition to the 12 IRRB members invited to UIC HQ in Paris, four UIC staff were included.
Mr Boris Lapidus, IRRB Chairman, welcomed the participants, thanking all the members for their contribution to assist with completion of the Action Plan 2012 as well as the UIC staff for their efficient involvement and support.
Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux – UIC Director General, informed IRRB members of recent developments within the UIC and pointed at the growing priority of research and innovation in our work as well as the importance of acquiring external funding to support the innovation of the global railway system.
During the meeting many strategic points were discussed. An update was given on important research & standardisation related issues (EC Horizon 2020, ERRAC, “Challenge 2050”, output from the Standardisation Platform, etc.) by Mr Dennis Schut.
Following this, an update was given on the progress of the implementation of the Strategy Document and Action Plan – conducted by the seven strategic working groups, preceded by the IRRB vice-chairmen. UIC Global Rail Research & Innovation Awards: an evaluation of the 2012 process and revisions & planning for 2014 – jury, experts, categories, funding, procedure – as well as links with UIC project “Network of young talented railway youth” were discussed.
Mr David George (CRC Australia) gave an update on the the UIC Research Portal, the basic tool for the exchange of knowledge & information for the Group (soon to be open to all UIC members).
IRRB members expressed their positive opinion on SPARK – the UIC Portal supporting research database and IT support tool – which is run under RSSB/UIC partnership agreement.
Foresight: identification of the most effective ways to develop railway transport to enhance efficiency – was presented by Ralph Mueller on behalf of IRRB vice-chairman Mr H.P. Lang (DB AG).
Definition of priority areas for research – Standardisation – contributed by Mr Ralf Mueller on behalf of Mr H.P. Lang (DB AG) and Mr Boris Lapidus – supported by Mr J. Grim (VUZ CD) Railway transport challenges requiring scientific solutions (“Red Book”) – a list of draft research priorities was presented by vice-chair Mr J. Grim (VUZ CD) responding to needs and solving problems of railway transport (in particular for developing railway transport between Europe and Asia. Development of a grant system for promising research (as incentives for researchers and world-class research centres) also presented by Mr J. Grim.
During the session Mr Peter Verlic, Director of the Transport Research Institute of Slovenian Railways, the newest IRRB member, gave a presentation of the history, capacities and capabilities of the Prometni Institut of Slovenian Railways.
TCDD – (Turkish State Railways) which also joined IRRB recently, again declared their active support to IRRB activities.
The aim of IRRB is to enhance the regular membership with a limited number of so-called IRRB strategic partners (specialised academia and rail research institutes) – the issue of a possible special membership category is under consideration by our Legal Dpt. in order to facilitate cooperation with academia.
The IRRB will work to update its Strategic Paper over the next two years as well as the corresponding Action Plan for 2014. A presentation is foreseen for the UIC General Assembly in Paris on 11 December 2013.
IRRB funding of activities for 2013 & 2014 have been foreseen in the UIC budget.
The following dates for the future plenary meetings of the IRRB in 2013 have been proposed: 26 June in Paris and 28 November 2013 linked with WCRR in Sydney. The 5th IRRB Web Conference will be organised in September 2013 in order to prepare for the November Plenary meeting.