Closely linked to the planning of the 5th TRA (Transport Research Arena) and the IRRB Plenary Meeting, the WCRR (World Congress on Railway Research) EXE and ORG meetings were held in conjunction.
These meetings marked the first meetings since the successful WCRR 2013 which was held in Sydney. The meetings – with a somewhat similar agenda – concentrated on the report of the WCRR 2013 event and the start of the preparation for the 2016 WCRR which will be held in Milan, Italy.
The welcome address was delivered by Italian EXE chairman Stefano Guidi, who then introduced the IOC – Italian Organising Committee. Since Italy will host the 11th WCRR, a specific team has been constituted to organise the congress. To this end Trenitalia and its holding company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane are combining their specific skills and efforts to face this challenge. The Trenitalia team will mainly manage the scientific and technical areas while Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane will concentrate on the organisational and communications aspects of the event. The EXE Committee agreed with this set-up and agreed to work closely with the IOC and recommended that the ORG Committee endorse this.
Following the detailed report on the WCRR 2013 by Kevin Taylor, the WCRR ORG chairman for this event, the report and its recommendations were approved. Furthermore, it was supported that UNIFE – as was the case in the organising of the 2011 WCRR in Lille – agreed to be part of the organisation of WCRR 2016. They were already represented during these first WCRR 2016 EXE & ORG meetings.
In order to make WCRR 2016 more attractive, members proposed to combine the following additional events:
- UIC European regional assembly;
- UIC General assembly;
- International Rail Research Board (IRRB).
The EXE recommended the ORG Committee to update/confirm UIC details for additional events.
The venue proposal made by the IOC – the FIERA Milano – was endorsed by the EXE Committee as well as by the ORG. It is one of the biggest and best exhibition and congress centres in Italy and ideally located near the railway station, so that rolling stock could easily be made part of the WCRR exhibition.
Furthermore, drafts for the WCRR 2013 logo and theme were discussed as well as the format and sessions themes. Proposals as discussed will be sent out to the EXE and ORG members for their remarks.
A proposal for a work plan and timeline were also presented and discussed as well as possible meeting dates, the first being 18 September 2014 in Rome, Italy for the second EXE meeting.
The ORG meeting on 16 April followed more or less the same agenda as the EXE and the EXE proposals were endorsed. During the ORG meeting three professional congress organisers had been invited to present their capabilities to support the IOC. The selection will be made within three weeks.
The Best Paper Award procedures were discussed again together with the experiences in Sydney. It was decided to use an Italian team of experts to evaluate the submitted papers. It was found that a national team of experts would be easier to manage and easier to communicate with.
Finally, a presentation was made by Mr Fuminao OKUMURA, Executive Director of RTRI, the Japanese Rail Research Institute, proposing to organise and host the 12th WCRR in Tokyo city centre in the autumn of 2019 – 20 years after they organised the 4th WCRR. The proposal was welcomed and gladly accepted. The fact that Japan was always strongly supportive of railway research and innovation was highly appreciated.
On the evening between the EXE and ORG meeting days ORG member Jean-Pierre Loubinoux invited the WCRR and IOC organising members to an informal team building cocktail reception.
The meetings were felt by all as a very positive start in the preparation of the next World Congress on Railway Research.