The last meeting of the Panel of Structural Experts within the Track & Structures Sector of the Rail system Forum took place in Bratislava, Slovak Republic.
During three days from Tuesday 26th to Thursday 28th September 2010 the actual problems for structures especially bridges and tunnels were discussed. 17 participants from most of the European Infrastructure Managers were present with the familiar support from Japan.
The meeting was well organised by the Slovak colleagues who presented their country and the Slovak railways in good condition and preparing the network for future needs.
On the first day Dipl.-Ing. Balucha as Director of Infrastructure department welcomed all participants in Bratislava. The day was dedicated to the general information from UIC and European organisations. Also technical reports from the different current projects were discussed and some other administrative work.
On the second day the Panel visited a construction site near Nové Mesto nad Vahom where a new tunnel is under construction to increase the line speed from 120 to 160 kmph with a possibility of 200 kmph in the future. The experts saw a tunnel of 1775 m length, currently 400 m excavated from each portal. The excavation method is the NATM with different sections (upper part, bench and floor). This tunnel will shorten the line length by about 400 m and allow the increase of the speed. At the work site all current miners and the Panel congregate for the traditional group picture.
In the afternoon there was a short guided tour through the famous castle area of Bratislava and a wonderful renovated old town with very interesting buildings and stories about the people of Bratislava from 5000 b.C. to now. The day closed with an official dinner with the participation of the Deputy General Director of Slovak Railways, Dipl.-Ing. Jozef Antoš.
At the third and last day the Panel discussed some European projects and prepared new projects and proposals for the review of EN 1991-2 and the most important problems with new vehicles. Unfortunately rolling stock manufactures are still increasing the loads for each axle and therefore Infrastructure Managers have to check all lines for each new vehicle. It is a need for a permanent and co-operative teamwork between the designers of rolling stock and the structures engineers of the railway infrastructure. The infrastructure capability is limited and all vehicles have to accept this.
The Chairman of the Panel of Structural Experts, Dipl.-Ing. Martin Muncke, closed a very successful meeting and invited all members to the next meeting in Paris on the 2nd and 3rd February 2011, combined with a plenary session of the Track & Structures Sector.