A high-level UIC Asia-Pacific Regional Assembly (APRA) workshop on the use of high-accuracy coordinate track adjustment systems for greater efficiency of existing infrastructure was successfully held online on Thursday 29 October. The event, initiated by RZDstroy - a subsidiary of RZD and an affiliate UIC APRA member - and actively supported by its mother company RZD, brought together 116 participants from 20 countries covering three UIC regions – Asia-Pacific, Europe and Middle East. The participants included high-level technical experts from railway companies, as well as representatives of international organisations and UIC partners, such as OSJD and CCTT. The objective of the workshop was to share experience and best practices for using coordinate-based methods for rail track laying and maintenance processes in Asia-Pacific and worldwide.
The workshop was opened with welcome remarks and introductory speeches from Mr Vincent Vu, UIC Director of Institutional Relations and Coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Region, Mr Christian Chavanel, UIC Rail System Director, Ms Lyudmila Renne, Deputy Head of RZD Foreign Projects and International Cooperation, and Mr Evgeny Dorot, Deputy Director General for Innovative Development at RZDstroy. The significance of the workshop was presented in the context of UIC’s strategic objectives in general, as well as those of the Rail System Forum (RSF). This introduction was followed by two main workshop sessions.
During the first session on theoretical grounds for high-accuracy coordinate track adjustment, a number of prominent speakers took the floor to share their experience and latest developments and to explain current challenges.
Mr Mikhail Starovoytov, Chief Engineer of the RZD Central Directorate of Infrastructure, presented the technology for setting a railway track to the design position using coordinate methods. He gave an overview of the railway sections of the RZD rail network on which the elements of the high-accuracy coordinate system and the geodetic reference network had been created. Mr Starovoytov concluded by describing the RZD Innovative Digital Technologies Programme and initiatives for inclusion in the RZD Scientific and Technical Work Plan 2020-2021.
Mr Vincent Vu, Coordinator for the UIC Asia-Pacific Region, then took the floor and stressed that UIC was an ideal forum for cooperation. He thanked OSJD for participating in the workshop and reminded participants of the International Railway Solutions (IRSs), one of the main outputs offered by UIC for the benefit of the entire railway community.
Mr Christian Chavanel, UIC Rail System Director, then presented the objectives of the UIC Rail System Forum. Among the key messages he wished to share with participants was the need for UIC to create closer links between members and manufacturers. Key strategic focus areas were presented as follows:
- Promotion of rail transport globally
- Further development of UIC as a technical platform to address members’ needs
- Creation of innovation through projects
- Promotion of sustainable, carbon-free transport
- Efficient, transparent management for the benefit of UIC members
Mr Chavanel continued by presenting the objectives of the Rail System Department, emphasising the following aspects in particular:
- Contribution to the technical evolution of TSIs
- Migration of UIC Leaflets to IRSs
- Providing support to members for their work in CEN-CENELEC, ISO, IEC and OSJD
- Providing technical support to CER and EIM
- Enhancing the relationship between UIC and the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking
Within the Rail System Department, specific strategic focus areas are as follows:
- Operations: UIC will create this new sector next year
- Control-command signaling (CCS) and telecoms
- Asset management
- Railway digital modelling: UIC will create this new sector next year and is actively working on this topic with its experts on behalf of its members
- Infrastructure subsystem
- Interfaces and interactions between infrastructure subsystem and rolling stock
- Rolling stock
- Artificial intelligence
Mr Chavanel added that “We need to work together for the benefit of the whole railway sector”. He concluded by presenting the V Cycle, saying: “It’s important to be present in the discussion with manufacturers to ensure that our specifications and requirements are taken into account … We have to test new solutions provided by manufacturers. If we improve our involvement when we test them, UIC could be the place to prepare operational rules. The innovation cycle would be accelerated and the direct benefit is saving money”. He welcomed the initiative taken by RZDstroy in proposing the workshop, which was the ideal forum for a joint discussion of these issues.
Ms Mercedes Gutierrez, Infrastructure and Train-Track Interaction Senior Advisor within UIC’s Rail System Department, presented the RSF Track and Structures and Track-Train Interaction Sectors’ activities, composition and ongoing projects.
Mr Francisco Cabrera of ADIF (Spain) then presented a case study on the UIC MILA (Harmonised Methodology for Infrastructure Lifetime Assessment) project. He gave an overview of the MILA project, showed the project participants and parties involved on the map, and provided an update on the current status of the deliverables.
This was followed by a further case study on the UIC Harmotrack project, presented by Mr Danilo Sorrentino, Head of Vehicle-Track Interaction at SNCF Réseau (France). Mr Sorrentino began by outlining the background to the project and explaining existing indicators of track quality. He then described the current situation with regard to track quality assessment and explained the project objectives and structure, concluding with an update on the current status of the project, results achieved and next steps.
The first session was closed by Mr Stepan Dukhin, Head of Science and Technology Centre, JSC NIIAS (Russia), with a presentation on the conceptual approach to application of space and time support methods in RZD production processes. Mr Dukhin explained the objectives of the approach in detail, demonstrated the role of spatial data in the infrastructure life cycle, provided additional information on the high-accuracy coordinate system and presented the idea of creating a spatial database with innovative surveying technologies.
The second session of the workshop included three presentations dedicated to high-accuracy coordinate track adjustment in practice, with an overview of applications, challenges, latest developments and perspectives.
Mr Evgeny Dorot, Deputy Director General for Innovative Development at RZDstroy (Russia), opened the session with a comprehensive presentation on the use of high-accuracy coordinate track adjustment systems for greater efficiency of existing infrastructure, in which he outlined the design of the unified high-accuracy coordinate space from four points of view: engineering, construction/renewal/repairs, operation and traffic management. Mr Dorot presented the primary applications of coordinate-based methods and explained problems caused by non-availability of unified coordinate space. He also demonstrated the operating principles and innovative technical and technological solutions offered by the PALAS laser absolute track positioning system and described some applications of this system in Russia. He concluded his speech with a reminder of the goals of the unified coordinate space: improving the performance, reliability and comfort of railway transport while reducing operating costs.
Representing the rail supply industry, Mr Andrea Zanichelli, Head of Technical Products at Geismar (France/Italy), presented track laying technologies on high-speed mainlines with increased positioning accuracy. This was followed by an equally interesting presentation by Mr Yaroslav Solovyev, Hexagon Geosystems (Russia), who reported on the operation of high-precision positioning systems when performing railway foundation grading work. Mr Solovyev kindly shared his company’s experience, as well as details of software and autonomous solutions offered in this field.
Each of the two sessions was followed by a fruitful discussion.
Concluding the workshop, Christian Chavanel noted that the workshop had been a real success and had provided a comprehensive overview of the current status of coordinate-based methods in railway infrastructure maintenance. In particular, he was pleased that the event had served as a perfect opportunity for rail industry experts to share their experience, challenges and perspectives on the topic.
In her closing remarks, Lyudmila Renne warmly thanked all of the participants and speakers for their interest in the topic of the workshop and their very active participation. She expressed her special thanks to UIC Headquarters (UIC HQ) for its support and promotion of the event. She suggested that a short statement could be prepared by RZD and UIC HQ as an initial output from the workshop, to be addressed to all participants, inviting them to acknowledge the relevance and great potential of the topic for the entire rail sector and to commit to organising such events within the framework of APRA sessions on a regular basis in the future, at least once a year. The proposal was approved unanimously.
Concluding the workshop, Christian Chavanel stressed the importance of learning more about manufacturers’ and suppliers’ solutions.