The 11th edition of the World Congress on Railway Research will take place in Milan, Italy from 29 May – 2 June 2016. It will be hosted and organised by Ferrovie della Stato Italiane/Trenitalia, and supported by an EXE and ORG Committee which consists of representatives of TTCI, RTRI, UIC, RSSB, DB, SNCF and FSI/ Trenitalia.
The Marathon meeting
One of the most time-consuming meetings took place in San Luigi in Italy, close to Siena, from 29 September – 2 October. The aim of this so-called “Marathon-meeting” was to review all submitted abstracts and the ratings given by the expert evaluators, to decide on their acceptance as a full paper presentation or poster presentation or their rejection. A rejection does not always mean that the abstract is of lower quality than others, but that it did not exactly fit the session topic. Another issue the WCRR team had to consider was the right balance between the countries of origin. Countries ‘over-represented’ at submissions did not have to be over-represented in the programming as well. A good international and even global spread is preferred. Looking at the number of submissions: the highest number of scientific abstracts was received from Italy – which is not so astonishing as they are the organising country – followed by Italy, Japan, France China, UK, Germany, but also there were excellent abstracts from China, Finland, Colombia, Australia, United Emirates, Iran and many other countries.
Besides these expert evaluations, the members of the WCRR EXE Committee had also reviewed most of the abstracts in preparation for the Marathon meeting.
Abstract submissions and session themes
For the 11th WCRR, 936 abstracts were received from 38 countries. The 2016 WCRR programme will be built around the following theme: “Research and Innovation from Today Towards 2050”. The six main topics chosen as building blocks for the programme are: Rolling Stock, Infrastructure, Railway System, Passenger Mobility door-to-door, Freight Logistics, Sustainability, Economics and Policy and finally Operations and Safety.
Based on these topics, three types of sessions were arranged: “Vision & Future”, “Today’s Research” and “Proof of Concept” (POC). From the 936 abstracts 312 full paper presentations were selected. 72 were chosen for “Vision & Future” and 240 for “Today’s Research”. There will be 55 POC’s – demonstrations of practical use of the results of research. Besides this, there will be 252 electronic posters, each consisting of a set of four downloadable slides containing multi-media content, which is something new for the 11th WCRR edition. Also new is the concept of the POC. These Proof of Concept sessions are much more than just paper presentations, more than words but actual demonstrations of the practical use of results!
Depending on the number of high quality abstracts, sometimes there was more than one session needed for abstracts covering the same topic but sometimes there was a need to combine two or three topics into one interesting session.
Over the three days of WCRR 2016, there will be 64 different sessions, usually eight in parallel. Besides that, there will a good choice of highly interesting technical visits as part of the programme on 2 June. Finally the EXE Cte proposed and agreed on a list of 64 potential session chairs which will be confirmed during the next few weeks.
Combined EXE & ORG meeting
After all the “Marathon” work was completed, the WCRR EXE Committee was joined by the senior members of the ORG Committee for a joint EXE & ORG meeting on 2 October. During this meeting the ORG members were informed about the results of the work carried out by the EXE Committee. Furthermore, the content of the three plenary sessions was discussed and some ideas were exchanged about the organisation and content of the opening and closing ceremonies. The Plenary sessions will each have a very interesting theme and a very special character reflected in the topics to be discussed as well as in the speakers to be invited. The topics will not just be confined to rail issues but some will look ‘across the fence’.
In conclusion it can be said that the Marathon session – which had been extremely well prepared by the Italian organising committee – has led to very satisfying results which are bound to contribute to yet another very interesting World Congress on Rail Research.
One small piece of advice: register while the registration fees are still in the early bird category and while there is still a large choice of hotel rooms within a short distance of the venue.
Sponsors of the WCRR 2016 are still welcome and there is still a limited number of exhibition slots available. For exhibitors of Rolling Stock there are 12 tracks available for trains, wagons and locomotives! Transport from Italy’s borders can be arranged.