On 5 April, Marc Antoni, who was top of his class at the Moulin Neuf railway school (France) in 1979, led a UIC delegation, which included François Davenne, Deputy Director General.
Having opened in 1964, this vocational training centre for signalling and electrical installations at the Moulin Neuf in Chambly (Oise department, France,) has an experimental worksite which includes five signal boxes, a level crossing with half-barrier and automatic light signalling which completes the site.
Moulin Neuf is 40 km from Paris, to the north. With two important railway nodes, the site also borders the line Paris Beauvais, which is already recognised as a gateway to the north of the country. The relatively small extent of the network and its concentrated shape were also favourable factors. The neighbouring workshop of the Moulin Neuf site became the SNCF site for the manufacture of track equipment.
Prof. Dr. Marc Antoni, Director of the UIC Rail System Department, a former student of this centre, passionately transmitted his unlimited knowledge in this field to François Davenne, UIC Deputy Director General, and Jean-Michel Evanghelou, UIC Head of Signalling & Telecoms. Since 2007, Marc Antoni has been Head of Technological Innovation and Asset Management at SNCF, and from 2013-2014 has also been a signalling and system expert at UIC.
In 1990 Marc Antoni graduated in electronics from the French engineering school CNAM National Conservatory of Arts and Metiers), and from the Graduate School of Engineering in 1993. He obtained his PhD from the University of Braunschweig (Germany) in 2009 and obtained the title of university professor at CNAM in 2018. Beginning his career at SNCF as a signalling and telecommunications operator at the Strasbourg Regional Infrastructure Directorate in 1986, he has been responsible for developing infrastructure monitoring and remote monitoring for infrastructure at the Head of the Regional Infrastructure Telecommunication and Computerised Systems Directorate.
During this visit, the UIC delegation was accompanied by Claude Mangone, Director of industrial assets and data at SNCF Réseau, to discover all the elements related to a track circuit (crocodile, KVB train protection system, embedding, heel, polarity report on a track circuit...). In the space of 20 metres, many things are connected, coordinated, controlled, and every time there is a risk. “We must always think man-tool-procedure”, said Claude Mangone.
The group, before “pulling the levers”, visited a signal box as there are only a hundred left in France. Marc Antoni explained that “the older generation left us a standardised network”. The post, with lock switches, makes it possible to understand that it is absolutely necessary to have safety conditions to act, and all this is based on mechanical (bouré keys or mechanical interlockings) and electrical protections. Maintenance is done to make it work safely. Operating rules allow degraded management. They are not the same everywhere. Marc Antoni noted that “the principles are unchangeable even if the technologies change.”
This visit allowed the UIC delegation to bask in an extraordinary knowledge of technical expertise and know-how with lessons, and very interesting perspectives of analogies with today’s data networks as key takeaways.