The Final Conference of Capacity4Rail, the EU co-funded project focusing on looking at the future scenarios for railways in 2030/2050, and comprising 46 partners, was held on 21 September 2017 hosted by the Spanish Railways Foundation (Fundación de los Ferrocarriles Españoles, FFE) in Madrid.
Attended by more than 100 participants from 17 countries across the European railway community and beyond, the Capacity4Rail Final Conference was the opportunity to share the results of the four-year project to offer an affordable increase of capacity, availability and performance to the railway system by developing a holistic view on the railway as a system of interacting technical components driven by customer demand. UIC has played an important role in Capacity4Rail by co-ordinating the project and supporting the work package dissemination.
The conference was opened with introductory speeches by Mr César López, General Manager of the Spanish Railways Foundation (FFE) and Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, General Director of the International Union of Railways (UIC).
Mr César López welcomed all participants to the Foundation, acknowledging the importance of this and other European Commission supported projects for the railway research field, and the continued contributions of Foundation to EU and UIC projects.
Mr Loubinoux pointed out how necessary it is to set the stage for future mobility needs, recognize what the customer wants and to identify the huge challenges that the rail transport mode has to face to be successful and to be the backbone of the mobility system: to develop a competitive railway freight transport and a genuine multi‐modal mobility system, to adapt the railway system to the technological revolution, to offer sustainable transport solutions and to optimise the environmental friendliness of railway operations. All the challenges set out need specific actions in the field of research. Railway research is now a key to ensure the innovation needed to construct a successful future for rail transport, more than ever, where all stakeholders must collectively and collaboratively cooperate and strive to be the “land transport mode of the 21st Century”.
The Capacity4Rail project is part of the global European R&D effort focused on increasing the attractiveness and competitiveness of railway system, which aimed at bringing today’s railway system to its future vision.
Featuring a good balance between sector activities, the conference was the opportunity to present the results of the technical Sub-Projects:
- SP1: Infrastructure
- SP2: New concepts for efficient freight systems
- SP3: Operation for enhanced Capacity
- SP4: Advanced monitoring
- and of one transversal Sub-Project, namely SP5: System assessment and migration to 2030/2050.
The conference highlights, moderated by Mr Álvaro Andrés, Capacity4Rail Project Coordinator (UIC), and Mrs Christine Hassoun (UIC), can be included in the following categories:
- New reliable slab-track solutions targeted to the actual and expected railway use and much lower maintenance, developed in the 3MB and L-Track prototypes. Also, some innovative concepts for resilient S&Cs and ground-breaking components and methods for use in Very High Speed Train (VHST) operation. All were driven for the upgrading of infrastructure in order to meet new operation and market demands
- Market development and requirements, focused in needed innovations for trains/wagons design and techniques for operation, connectivity, terminal design, capacity improvements and operations development to meet the changing needs of the logistic market leading to the future freight train, first on incremental change for 2030 and the vision needed for a system change in 2050, to achieve the degree of intermodality and modal shift of ground transportation to rail, foreseen by the Commission 2011 White Paper for Transport.
- Step-changes for strategic, tactical and operational planning to meet the required future challenges such as increased capacity, optimised management of delays and emergencies, enhanced information sharing between infra managers and railway undertakings, interoperability on RFCs and TEN-T networks and greater levels of connection between rail and the other transportation modes.
- Innovative concepts of monitoring, based on innovative sensors, low-power/low-cost technologies, energy harvesting for power supply and wireless networks, for railway structural and operational monitoring developed to enhance the availability of the track, combined with automated maintenance forecasts and a prediction of the structural lifetime, also diagnosis for precise inspection/maintenance actions requested.
System Assessment and Migration to 2030/2050
- Technical and economical assessment of technologies developed, including timeline, guidelines/actions roadmaps and migration scenarios, including case studies in the Scandinavian/Mediterranean corridor in Swedish and French sections, necessary to meet and implement in reality the innovations on the target affordable, adaptable, automated, resilient and high capacity railway system required for the 2030/2050 vision.
The conference concluded with two specific slots. In the first, Mr Giorgios Patris, Shift2Rail (S2R) Joint Undertaking Programme Manager, spoke on how this initiative prepares the way into the future for Railways in Europe, explained the partnership, platforms, objectives, key documents, funding, structure and contents of the different Innovation Projects (IPs), especially IP3 (for a Cost-Efficient and Reliable High-Capacity Infrastructure) and IP5 (Technologies for Sustainable & Attractive European Rail Freight), and how they’ll profit and advance from the results of C4R.
A second slot was a round table on the contents of the C4R project, animated by Mr Harald Sattler (UIC) and Mr David Villalmanzo (UIC), and composed of: Mrs Paola Pellegrini (IFFSTAR), Mr Pierre-Etienne Gautier (SYSTRA), Mr Armand Toubol (NEWOPERA), Mr Javier Morales (CEMOSA), Mr Carlos Hermosilla (ACCIONA), Mr Burchard Ripke (DB), representing the different areas of research in C4R and the diverse type of members in the project, as well as Mr Georgios Patris.
This round table served to reflect on the results achieved in C4R, to discuss their potential implementation and also to discuss what we the railway community can do – based on the knowledge and outcomes achieved in the project – in future collaborative research activities, for example, within the framework of Shift2Rail.
In conclusion, the Capacity4Rail Final Conference has been able to demonstrate the innovations, prototypes, results achieved and scenarios of viability, configuring in this approach not only a separated sub-system view of future prospects, but a complete frame on the whole railway system, able to be used as a reality by all possible stakeholders, including IM’s, RU’s, industry, academia… and mostly directed to optimise it and facilitate their advantages to the railway customers and users.
The conference was followed on the next day, 22 September, by a technical visit to CEDEX (Centro de Estudios y Experimentación de Obras Públicas, institution attached to the Ministry of Public Work of the Spanish Government) facilities in Madrid, focused on structure monitoring activities, the Rail Interoperability Lab (RIL), the geotechnical laboratory and in particular on activities of “Track and Infrastructure Testing and Assessment”.
Demonstration activities have played a crucial role in C4R as they have enabled the assessment of the innovations and the most promising designs developed in the project. Most of the demonstrators have taken place on operated railway infrastructures or in laboratories.
In the CEDEX track-box, where a specific real-scale track is available for testing a large range of track configurations and where, C4R has carried out one of the main demonstration activities in the project. The demonstrator was presented by Mr José Estaire (CEDEX).
All public deliverables of the project as well as presentations made during the conference will be available soon on the Capacity4Rail website: