This year’s annual meeting of the UIC Panel of Structural Experts (PoSE) took place in Vienna. Together with Harald Sattler, Martin Muncke of ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG, Chairman of PoSE, welcomed the 25 participants representing European UIC members.
The agenda for the first day included an update on recent internal changes at UIC. David Villalmanzo Resusta advised the PoSE group of the updated UIC organisational chart, platforms and forums, noting the appointment of UIC’s new General Director, Mr François Davenne, and the new Rail System Director, Mr Christian Chavanel.
Regarding the future of UIC leaflets and IRSs, ETF’s sales figures were reviewed and the plan for migration of PoSE-related leaflets to IRSs was discussed and approved. The new IRS 70719, “Earthworks and track bed layers for railway lines – Design and construction principles”, an update of UIC Leaflet 719, was presented and agreed, pending some minor changes. Mr Frédéric Durot provided an update on Leaflet 779-10 “Tunnel Asset Management and Maintenance Principles”, which is being migrated to an IRS. The group decided to proceed with the next step in the process, which will be to send the updated document for RSF approval.
A progress report on the Drone4Rail project was presented by the project leader, Hans-Jörg Stark of SBB.
The topic of masonry arch bridges was presented by Harald Sattler, who provided details of an upcoming workshop in Pécs (see e-News #656), the release of videos from the previous workshop (e-News #658), and publication of selected background documents.
The group discussed the results from a number of technical questionnaires, including a survey on basic rules for maintenance and inspection of bridges in the various member networks. Herbert Friedl presented the results of feasibility studies for two new projects on preventive maintenance for bridges and monitoring of railway bridges, respectively, which will now be put forward for the next opt-in cycle.
On the basis of contributions from PoSE members and various test results, Jean-Jacques Reber presented design rules and construction measures to prevent ballast from flowing onto bridges.
During the afternoon session, Helfried Axmann of ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG provided information on the bridge visit to take place the following day.
The group visited two major construction sides on the second day of the meeting. A line with several bridges is currently being reconstructed in Vienna alongside other upgrades. PoSE had the opportunity to visit one of these construction sites with a new steel bow bridge with interesting construction details such as forged hanger anchors welded in situ. The bridge is prefabricated onsite, next to the track, and will be placed in its final position this winter.
After a short trip through the beautiful landscapes of Lower Austria, PoSE visited one of the construction sites for the Semmering base tunnel. This fascinating project involves the construction of 27.3 km of new tunnel by 2026 and, when completed, will enable speeds of up to 230 km/h and will reduce travel time by 30 minutes. The longest section of tunnel will be in the valley of Fröschnitz in the Styria region.
The local project team was represented by Wolfgang Steinegger, who guided the group to a wooden information tower opposite the construction site, where the group enjoyed an excellent view of the site. The group learned more about the various details of the project with regard to geological considerations, adaptation of construction methods (e.g. tunnel boring machine versus the “new Austrian tunnelling method”), temperature-related challenges and management of excavated material.
The group then visited the Gloggnitz information centre at the eastern end of the tunnel, where a detailed overview was provided of the tunnel construction project and the environmental and geological conditions in the area. The Semmering railway is a World Heritage site and is thus subject to special supervision.
The group once again had a full agenda for the third day of the meeting, and the items discussed included cooperation with European standards organisations and other bodies. Several participants gave technical presentations, one example being an overview of research on coped beam connections provided by Mr Ron Van der Zwan.