Track & Structure

The Track and Structures Sector and its core expert groups, the Track Experts Group (TEG) and the Panel of Structural Experts (PoSE), work on issues relating to tracks, earthworks, bridges and tunnels. Both groups are focused not only on track and its components, as well as structures such as bridges, tunnels and earthworks, but also any other structural building in the civil engineering field. The current chair of the T&S Sector is Ms Paola Firmi, Technical Director at RFI (Italy).

Through its projects and activities, the Track and Structures Sector manages, develops and promotes technical solutions (products) as well as processes (maintenance operations) to increase railway system performance and enable higher loads and/or speeds and provide increased capacity with greater reliability. Its objectives include:

  • optimisation of operating costs
  • reduction of total infrastructure asset costs over the entire life cycle (LCC)
  • maintenance of high quality and safety standards and corresponding threshold levels
  • making a sizable contribution to transport sustainability and environmental improvement

The Track and Structures Sector’s main strategic axes are therefore as follows:

  • Introduction of innovative technologies, processes and products for inspection works to achieve:
    • greater automation and portability for inspections and works
    • optimised cost performance in the infrastructure system
    • high RAMS (Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety) levels
    • environmentally sustainable performance
  • Asset management optimisation, adopting “smart” and predictive maintenance approaches for existing structures and cost-effective systems that include:
    • optimised maintenance strategies and renewal policies
    • preservation of structures exceeding their projected lifespans,
    • improvement of assessment technologies and procedures
    • introduction of digitalisation, advanced monitoring and IoT

Thus, the overall objective is to reduce the impact of maintenance and guarantee improved infrastructure availability and capacity for operation.

In line with the general strategy and objectives of the Rail System Forum, the Track and Structures Sector aims to achieve its objectives through comprehensive use of three fundamental tools: benchmarking, research in cooperation with other relevant stakeholders and institutions (e.g. JUs, foundation research centres) and standardisation, bearing in mind UIC’s role as a “standards-setting organisation” as referenced in the T&S Sector strategy document.

The Track Expert Group (TEG)

The TEG works on issues relating to layout, track superstructure design and maintenance strategies/processes and track components.

The group leverages the expertise of key European and Asian infrastructure managers. Most European infrastructure managers are currently represented in the group by track engineering department heads or specialist engineers. Colleagues from China (CARS), Japan (RTRI) and Korea (KORAIL/KRRI) have also begun participating regularly in meetings.

The group currently has members from 24 countries and 25 railway organisations (infrastructure managers and railway authorities, as well as integrated companies), represented by 26 delegates from the EU, Russia, Korea, Japan and China.

The group is chaired by Bernhard Knoll of ÖBB (Austria). Kurt Demeersseman of Infrabel (Belgium) performs the role of group secretary. Plenary meetings are usually held in Paris in late January each year and are hosted by member railways or infrastructure managers each autumn.

The TEG is currently working on:

  • asset management engineering for existing plain track and switches and crossings
  • initiatives to develop new and enhanced track solutions and guidance for use in products and methodologies for selection of systems
  • advances in automated inspection systems (laser, radar, cameras, drones)
  • developing International Railway Solutions (IRS) and migrating existing UIC leaflets
  • actively influencing international (ISO) and European (CEN) codes and standards
  • handling digitalisation and environmental questions relating to superstructure

The TEG is responsible for a number of UIC leaflets under Chapter 7 of the UIC Codex (subsections 70, 71 and 72), as well as new IRSs and those adapted and updated on the basis of UIC leaflets, divided into two different categories: “Design, laying, recommendations for use” and “Maintenance” including, amongst other subjects:

  • various track types, layouts and features in accordance with operational characteristics
  • standardisation and guidelines for subsystem components (subsoil/bed layers, ballast, traditional track components (rail, switches and crossings, sleepers))
  • introduction of new and associated elements (e.g. under sleeper pads (USPs), under ballast mats (UBMs)) and development of corresponding guidelines for use
  • general maintenance, inspection and other related work processes (mostly for track and vegetation management)

Panel of Structural Experts (PoSE)

The PoSE deals with topics relating to civil engineering structures (viaducts/bridges, tunnels and earthworks), design and maintenance strategies/processes and aerodynamic effects on such assets.

The panel leverages the expertise of European infrastructure managers. The majority of European infrastructure managers are currently represented in the panel by structural or civil engineering department heads or specialist engineers.

The panel currently comprises 28 delegates from 21 countries and 23 railway organisations. It is chaired by Martin Muncke of ÖBB (Austria), with Jean-Jacques Reber of SBB (Switzerland) performing the role of secretary. Its plenary meetings are held in Paris in late January each year and are hosted by various member railways in the autumn.

The PoSE is directly responsible for a number of UIC leaflets under Chapter 7 of the UIC Codex (subsections 70, 71, 77, 78), as well as new IRSs or those adapted and updated from UIC leaflets.

The PoSE’s work focuses mainly on the following areas:

  • Engineering of existing bridges, tunnels and earthworks
  • Maintaining current knowledge of railway-specific sciences and migrating UIC leaflets to IRSs
  • Preparing background documents for the production of guidelines or to facilitate standardisation
  • Supporting and complementing CEN/ISO activities in relation to civil engineering structures for railways, particularly with regard to:
    • dynamic and aerodynamic influences
    • special consignments or heavier than usual loads exceeding existing load models
  • Basic research projects to understand and develop the fundamental requirements for future railways
  • Disseminating the results of research projects through dedicated workshops, such as the recent workshop on masonry arch bridges

Objectives

  • Improving cooperation between PoSE and TEG, as well as with other sectors (such as the TTI Sector)
  • Linking its activities to daily railway activity and meeting the needs and expectations of UIC members
  • Making progress with regard to revision of technical leaflets and their migration to IRS in the relevant areas of expertise in response to the decision taken by the UIC General Assembly in relation to research and standardisation strategies

The PoSE and the TEG are creating temporary working groups within the framework of special projects. These projects sometimes emerge as part of collaboration with European research projects aligned with the European Commission instruments of research or CEN/ISO working groups. If not financed externally, the projects in question are supported only by the special UIC budget for the opt-in process, provided by the member organisations within the Rail System Forum (RSF).

Projects

In 2017, the Sector was initially involved in five different projects:

  • LTR - Lateral Track Resistance”: this project has concluded, and aimed to define a harmonised methodology to assess LTR in tracks and to find a correlation with laboratory tests
  • Repair Works in Tunnels”, which aimed to identify the techniques and processes employed by various IMs for repair works in tunnels
  • “Composite (Plastic) Sleepers”: development of a market study on plastic sleepers and proposal of a new IRS
  • “DESMAN”: methodology for assessment of choice between different track systems (ballasted track and slab track)
  • “Broken Rail Detection (BRD)”: evaluation of existing and future technologies for broken rail detection and selection of those most suitable for further prototype development

A further two projects began in late 2017:

  • “Harmonised Methodology for Infrastructure Lifetime Assessment (MILA)” for definition of a harmonised methodology for formulation of rules for track components with regard to ageing
  • “Exceptional and Overloads on Existing Infrastructure (EOLE)”, whereby the scope was to review existing risk assessment regulations and practices in relation to exceptional loads on bridges and earthworks and to implement rules and requirements for operational management of heavy and potentially damaging traffic on structures

2018 also saw the launch of a further two projects:

  • “Track Stability and Prevention of Buckling (STABLETRACK)”, a project to update UIC Leaflet 720 on CWR track layout and maintenance
  • “Recommendations for the DEsign and use of MOnoblock concrete SLEEPERs (DEMOSLEEPER)”, updating UIC Leaflet 713 as a basis for the design of prestressed concrete sleepers

Two new projects began in 2019:

  • “Harmonised Methodology for Drone/UAV Use for Bridge Inspections (DRONE4RAIL)”, providing a benchmarking report, reviewing current and future potential for drone use to inspect structures, researching existing best practice in the railways, and establishing key requirements for decision making and the legal environment at European and national levels. The project will also involve experimental studies and field tests on various structures and in various environmental conditions.
  • “Alternative Treatments to Creosote Use and Wood Types for Wooden Sleepers (AT-WOOD)”, aimed at developing and researching methods/solutions to replace wooden sleepers treated with creosote. The project will involve identification of treatment methods and alternative wooden sleeper types.

2018 marked a significant step forward, with the publication of four new IRSs within the sector. These documents are available from the ETF Shop:

  • IRS 70712: Rail defects (migration and update of UIC Leaflet 712)
  • IRS 70713-1: Under sleeper pads (USP) - recommendations for use (migration and update of UIC Leaflet 713-1)
  • IRS 70778-2: Recommendations for determining the carrying capacity of existing metal railway bridges (migration and update of UIC Leaflet 778-2)
  • IRS 70778-3: Recommendations for the inspection, assessment and maintenance of masonry arch bridges (migration and update of UIC Leaflet 778-3)

77 IRSs and technical reports are currently being drafted. A further three (IRS 70719, 70723 and 70779-10) were approved in 2019 and will be published during 2020, with three further reference documents already published this year (IRS 60662 and two technical reports on lateral track resistance (LTR) and a replacement for former UIC Leaflet 700, “Category of Lines”).

Calculation of the payload limits for freight wagons

This software program is based on European standard EN 15528. It provides calculations of payload limits for freight wagons in each line category. Calculating load limit tables using this UIC program guarantees accurate and optimised values for individual wagons, taking actual axle spacing into account.

  • The program documentation can be accessed via “Help” and “Open documentation”.
  • Administrator privileges are required to install the software.
  • The language for the tool and documentation can be set to English, French or German.
  • The software runs on machines using Windows 2000 and later versions of Windows.
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Software: Calculation of the payload limits for freight wagons (version 1.1.0.4)

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Contacts:

Contact person for software matters: Thomas Reichl

Contact person for technical matters: Manfred Mautner

For any request please contact us with the subject "Software: Calculation of the payload limits for freight wagons": UIC Contact form

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