The European Commission and the GNSS Agency, who manages activities related to Europe’s satellite positioning and navigation programs (EGNOS and GALILEO), are co-funding the SATLOC project under UIC’s coordination. The satellite based operation and management of local low traffic lines opens the pilot application on the Brasov–Zarnesti low traffic line in Romania, operated by RCCF-TRANS. The project is carried out by a consortium of 11 partners from six European countries, whose work will be developed over a period of 28 months, starting January 2012.
The kick-off meeting for this new project took place from 17 – 18 January 2012 in Brasov, Romania, close to the Brasov–Zarnesti test line. The participants thus had the opportunity to visit the line and associated facilities and laboratories of the Romanian partners.
Opening the project’s kick-off meeting, UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux mentioned that this project is the result of more than 15 years of research done jointly by UIC and the European Commission, together with the contribution of George Barbu. The project is the outcome of an established confidence and mutual understanding based on complementary competence and clear interest and commitment of team work. “We have today a widely representative consortium that brings together not only several nationalities, but also expertise from the railways, industry, universities, infrastructure managers and the European railway community. This is a very interesting family for a very technical project”, said Mr Loubinoux. He highlighted the key points of this project, namely interoperability and safety in railway transport, compatibility with ERTMS/ETCS. The project addresses high adaptability to the operational and economically justified requirements. It therefore illustrates UIC’s values of building multi-disciplinary cooperation to satisfy railway needs. It also raises the opportunity of combining competences aiming to optimise the value of research money and to avoid double-spending of European funding.
Mr Loubinoux and Mr Libor Lochmann, Executive Director of CER who also attended the meeting in Brasov, commonly agreed that this project’s power also stems from the combination of the high-level technical competence and the political will in the signalling, train control, operations and traffic management field.
Marco Detratti, the Project Officer representing the European Commission and the GNSS Agency who manages the EU funding in this project, declared during the kick-off meeting: “Our role in this project is to make sure that the money is spent in order to achieve our concrete objectives. An amount of 1.2 million euro is invested in the SATLOC project. The project will prove that rail is a big market for the new technology. We not only stimulate innovation, but also the market, and prove the efficient return on investment”. The Project Officer spoke about the Commission’s priorities with regard to railway transport: “The railway sector hasn’t been especially privileged by the GNSS until now, but the Agency is strongly focusing on this sector and considering it as a day-to-day life service in our society. We are realising that there is a real need to achieve satellite navigation and there are a lot of applications needed in the railway market, more than in other sectors. Therefore we count on stimulating the penetration of the European railway industry worldwide and reducing the railways’ environmental impact. This year is a crucial year for the definition of a GNSS roadmap for the railway sector and the SATLOC project gives us the right opportunity in this way. Given the premises, SATLOC is expected to give concrete results and to be a real example to be given and followed by other stakeholders too”.
The official ceremony was hosted by Brasov County Governor Mr Ion Gontea, who congratulated the two Romanian partners involved in this project, RCCF-TRANS and AFER. He expressed his hope that their example will be followed by other Romanian stakeholders in the railway field, as well as in other economic sectors, as foreign investments in the Romanian economy are one of the most dynamic factors of local development. The region of Brasov is one of the most economically dynamic regions in Romania and is home to one of the best Romanian universities, which may be involved in international research projects. Completing this idea, the UIC Director-General specified that Romania is one of the countries with the largest number of UIC member railway structures and operators and this is one of the reasons why he was glad to launch this project there, showing that UIC, in connection with the EU co-funded projects, is “a technical platform able to coordinate high quality work”.
Mr Ioan Pintea, technical director of the CFR, and Mr Stefan Roseanu, chief editor of the “Club Feroviar” paper, also took part in the opening meeting.