Tuesday 31 January 2017
Railway Research / Innovation Awards

Results from 3rd edition of the UIC Global Rail Research & Innovation Awards

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Rail transport faces huge present and future challenges for which innovation and step changes are necessary. As UIC’s overall mission is to promote an increased use of rail transport at world level and to help members make rail transport more attractive, effective, sustainable and economically viable, the General Assemblies have brought their strong support to the ambitious programme of UIC’s International Railway Research Board (IRRB), as well as its initiative to set up the UIC Rail Research & Innovation Awards. The 3rd edition of the Awards came to an end through the organisation of the award ceremony held in St Petersburg in Russia on 1 December 2016.

Through these Awards, the UIC aims to support and promote:

  • The development of theoretical, experimental and applied research in railway transport
  • The development process of international cooperation in this field
  • The promotion and attraction of leading experts from different countries, research institutes, universities, railway operators, infrastructure managers, railway suppliers, passenger transport organisations, governmental bodies in charge of transport and individual research to address the most important problems and challenges of modern railways
  • The global recognition of the role of single researchers and research groups in order to establish rail as the sustainable backbone of the transportation system which is cost-efficient, reliable, safe and secure and will therefore become the mode of choice for passengers and freight forwarders

As well as to:

  • Support and encourage gifted young researchers, stimulate their research work in the sphere of railway transport, prepare a new generation of researchers, lay the foundations for future innovative development of railway transport and attract young researchers in the sphere of railway transport as well as to support the creation of favourable conditions for scientific discoveries and innovative achievements involving young researchers
  • Honour those persons who have spent their lifetime trying to innovate and improve the railway system and its services – the Lifetime Achievement Award

In a series of articles, we will focus in forthcoming issues on the award winning submissions as well as on some of other high scoring ideas for innovation of the railway system. This first article focuses on the 2016 Award winner in the category of Cost Reduction, Mr Tsutomu Watanabe.

The development and practical application of the Ladder Track

The world’s first longitudinal sleeper – the Ladder Sleeper – was developed using a limit stage design method for PC (pre-stressed concrete) sleepers and numerical simulations. The ladder sleeper is made of pre-stressed concrete beams connected with steel bars and is shaped like a ladder. Its weight per unit track length is the same as conventional PC sleepers. Since it has a rigid-connecting structure which embeds its steel connecting bars directly in the concrete beams, a correct gauge is ensured. There are two types of ladder tracks, ballasted ladder tracks and floating ladder tracks. The ballasted ladder track is effective in reducing ballast-layer maintenance work, because train loads are well distributed on a ballasted ladder track. In recent years, the ballasted ladder track has been laid on sections which require frequent maintenance work such as grade crossings, expansion joints, rail joint sections as well as ordinary sections. It is also effective in enhancing safety against track buckling and preventing an alignment irregularity of the abutment backfill.

The floating ladder track has also been used for bridges and rigid frame viaducts and contributed to reducing vibrations and noises caused by structures and have also been used to replace existing slab tracks and ballasted tracks. As one of the environmental countermeasures, the space between the longitudinal beams of a floating ladder track can be used as a greenbelt. On some of commercial lines, rows of planting mats have already been placed between the longitudinal beams on a trial basis.

UIC Global Rail Research & Innovation Awards – Cost Reduction Award Winner 2016

Tsutomu Watanabe (watanabe.tsutomu.30@rtri.or.jp) is an Assistant Senior Researcher in the Structural Mechanics Laboratory for the Ladder track research team of the Railway Technical Research Institute – RTRI- in Japan. He has worked together with Mr Masamichi Sogabe, the General Manager of the Personnel Administration Division, previously a Senior Researcher in the Structural Mechanics Laboratory Railway Dynamics Division and Mr Keiichi Goto, Assistant Senior Researcher in the Structural Mechanics Laboratory.

For further information please contact Mr Tsutomu Watanabe:


Or Dennis Schut at UIC: schut@uic.org

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