WCRR 2011, the 9th World Congress on Railway Research, was held in Lille (Grand-Palais Conference and Exhibition Centre), France, from 22 to 26 May 2011. This congress, hosted in the capital of France’s northern region by French Railways (SNCF), and organised in close cooperation with WCRR’s founding partners –TTCI (USA), DB, RTRI (JR), RSSB (UK), Trenitalia (FS), SNCF and UIC - was attended by over 800 participants from research institutes, the supply industry, as well as railways and institutions working to promote the development of rail transport.
The overall theme of WCRR 2011 was “Meeting the challenges for future mobility.” The theme’s three main sub-topics (respecting the environment and eco-mobility, new services for customers, an efficient railway system) were further broken down into eight major unifying and innovative challenges:
- A more energy-efficient railway
- An environmentally-friendly railway
- Increasing freight capacity and services
- A world of services for passengers
- Bringing the territories closer together at higher speeds
- Even more trains even more on time
- An even more competitive and cost efficient railway
- For an even safer and more secure railway
The WCRR opening session took place on 23 May with the participation of Mr Guillaume Pepy, SNCF President, Mr Yoshio Ishida, EJRC, UIC Chairman, Mr Zoltan Kazatsay, Deputy Director-General for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission, Mr Daniel Percheron, President of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, and Dominique Riquet, Mayor of Valenciennes, Vice-Chairman of the Transport and Tourism Committee at the European Parliament.
SNCF President Guillaume Pepy recalled that railways were an extremely complex system composed of complicated interfaces, both with regard to rolling stock and infrastructure and human factors. The priorities for innovation and research were to ensure the availability of the rail system and smooth, seamless and connected operations. Progress has notably been made concerning services for customers, predictive maintenance for infrastructure and rolling stock, energy use and sustainable development, and optimising the global railway system.
The speech delivered by Mr Yoshio Ishida, UIC Chairman, was very well received by participants. Mr Ishida highlighted the importance of research in the railway sector to make the train the preferred mode of transport. In his view, the priorities were to optimise the operation and maintenance of the railway system, to make it more user-friendly for the customer, to help bring costs down and become more sustainable. He also underlined the importance of research activities on risk prevention in the sector, making his point with reference to the devastating event that has recently hit Japan.
10 prizes awarded during the WCRR closing ceremony
Facts and figures: WCRR 2011 also featured three round table sessions during the plenary session at the start of each day, 49 sessions, 220 oral communications and 85 posters.
The official closing ceremony of WCRR 2011 in Lille consisted of a prizegiving ceremony, where 10 prizes were awarded: one for each of the eight challenges, plus a prize for the best young researcher and for the best poster.
The prizes for the eight challenges were awarded to:
- Marina Thiuonn-Guermeur, SNCF Innovation and Research (More energy-efficient trains)
- Arnold Miller, Vehicle Projects, USA (Greener trains)
- Luca Pugi, University of Florence (Increase freight and freight services)
- Corinne Talotte, SNCF Innovation and Research (A world of services for passengers)
- Hua Chen, RTRI, Japan (Bringing the territories closer together at higher speeds)
- Dennis Huismann, Netherlands Railways (Even more trains even more on time),
- Björn Paulsson, UIC, and Anders Ekberg, Chalmers University/UIC for Innotrack (An even more competitive and cost efficient railway)
- Selim Bellaj, SNCF Railway Test Agency (For an even safer and more secure railway),
- Kate Bonsall, RSSB, UK (Best young researcher)
- Taehoon Koh, KRRI, Korea (Best poster)
10th WCRR in Sydney, Australia
It was announced at the end of the congress in Lille that the 10th world congress on railway research, WCRR 2013, would be held from 25 to 27 November in Sydney (Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre), Australia. The Chairman of the WCRR 2013 Organising Committee is David George, CEO of CRC for Rail Innovation, Australia.