Friday 23 October 2009
Railway architecture

UIC participated to the Watford Conference (Ronda, Spain, 7-11 October 2009)

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Last year, UIC supported the Watford Group in the organization of the 10th Brunel Awards competition (cf. UIC e-news n°116 – 6th October 2008). This competition distinguishes the commissioners of the world’s best projects in railway architecture, industrial design, graphics and art, technical infrastructure and environmental integration and rolling stock.

To get closer to the Watford Group, UIC attended from October 7 to 11, 2009 the Watford Conference which took place in Ronda (Spain) at the invitation of ADIF. Thanks to its experience in the previous Brunel Awards in Vienna in 2008, UIC announced its wish to get more involved in the next Watford Conferences and the Brunel Awards competitions. Pia Bech Mathiesen – Secretary General of the Watford Group – welcomed with big pleasure this support.

This year, the main theme of the Watford Conference was “The challenge of capacity in the railway terminals”.

Considering that demand for mobility and rail traffic increase, railway stations have to be adapted and/or designed to welcome more passengers and more trains.
Following the New York Penn Station example - designed for 100 000 trips daily against 300 000 now – lot of existing stations do not fulfil the current needs.
Consequently architects and designers are asked to find solutions to refurbish, build or adapt railway stations with this capacity issues while dealing with PRM accessibility and other environmental features.
Flow studies and simulations are common tools to reorganize passengers movements in stations or access to stations often in a global refurbishment projects [Châtelet underground Paris station (France)] or sometimes in new station projects [Vienna main station (Austria)].
However the way to adapt stations differs from one station to another due to their environment, their location, their typology, etc.
For example, Central Japan Railway Company presented the Shin-Osaka “Shinkansen” Station enhancement project. It consists on building a new track and a new platform to increase Tokaido Shinkensen trains frequency (from 11 to 13 trains per hour).
But sometimes the urban environment is so dense that it is not possible to enlarge stations. Thus the experience of architects from dense metropolitan areas, such as Singapore, is very useful to make constraints assets. In Asia we can also quote the example of stations under viaduct designed by West Japan Railway Company in the Osaka-Higashi line.
Nevertheless few details like better platform design (cf. work of DSB in Denmark) – cheaper – can sort the capacity problem out in some cases.

Moreover, participants had the possibility to show their works on railway stations issues: railway stations programs (ÖBB, ADIF), railway stations projects (AREP in France and China, Upgrading Nørreport Station in Copenhagen), new stations in use (Liège Guillemins in Belgium), restrooms (East Japan Railway Company)…

Finally, following the presentation of Javier Bustinduy (BB&J Consul SA) relating to “HS stations: the battlefield for customer choice” and referring to the “UIC Study on High Speed Rail and the City”, everybody agreed on the following conclusion: High Speed line costs tend to relegate stations to a secondary level. But stations are as important as lines. Thus stations location should be determined prior to the HS line design to meet passengers’ expectations (accessibility, intermodality…).

This conference was also the occasion for participants to visit new railway terminals and improvements in stations:
- Atocha Station (Madrid)
- Maria Zambrano station (Málaga)
- Santa Ana station (Antequera)
- Santa Justa station (Sevilla)
- Córdoba station (Córdoba)

The Watford Group arranged to meet next year in France for the Watford Conference 2010 and in Washington DC in 2011 for both Watford Conference 2011 and 11th Brunel Awards competition.

The Watford Group

The Watford Group is an international expert forum for railway design professionals and was created in 1963 by British Railways. Since the 1980s, other European and international railways have joined. The Group currently has members in more than 15 countries worldwide and meets once a year at the Watford Conference to exchange ideas and to discuss relevant railway design topics.

For more information please contact Mickael Lannoy:

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