On 11 September, the MERLIN Rail Reference Group (RRG) held its kick-off meeting at UIC headquarters. Thanks to the combined effort of UIC and UNIFE, no less than eight companies have expressed their interest in taking part in the MERLIN Project via the Rail Reference Group – six of which are railway operators or infrastructure managers, adding to the operators who are already partners in the project, and the other two are industrial companies. This Group has been set up in order to allow exchange between the project and rail operators predominantly so that the group will be able to comment and review some of the project outputs and allow for the European rail sector as a whole to benefit from the outcomes of MERLIN in the field of energy optimisation.
Thanks to the presentations given by the MERLIN partners on the objectives and expected outcomes of MERLIN, the participants showed an even greater interest to be involved in the project activities, as they were better able to understand the interest of MERLIN and the possible benefits that could be achieved by its results.
Some of the RRG Members insisted on the fact that they were very interested in measures which can lead to reduction in energy usage, which is the main objective of MERLIN. They also raised technical issues such as asking if the project included aspects covering DAS systems, ground-to-train communication and energy storage technologies, to which the MERLIN partners answered yes.
In the course of the discussion, the RRG underlined the importance that the project examines the different specificities in Member States regarding the energy market and ensure that the developments of MERLIN are applicable. The project highlighted that this is a key objective of the project and that the scenarios which are based on real cases will help demonstrate the applicability of MERLIN in Europe, and that the RRG can further support this aspect with active contribution and feedback.
The kick-off meeting will therefore open a series of regular meetings with an initial frequency of one every six months until project end. However according to the needs, more frequent and more focused meetings or conference calls will be organised in the meantime to allow for exchanges between RRG members on specific issues of the MERLIN work packages.
The great interest of the RRG members in the project gave rise to intensive and fruitful exchange and interaction between the project partners and the RRG participants. This is indeed a good sign that involvement in the MERLIN RRG may be of strategic interest for other companies.
There is still the possibility to join the MERLIN RRG.