26 May saw another successful meeting of the UIC IRRB (International Railway Research Board), chaired by Mr. Boris Lapidus of RZD & VNIIZhT. The meeting was attended by UIC Chairman Mr Ishida, UIC Director-General Mr Loubinoux, IRRB Chairman Mr Boris Lapidus from RZD/VNIIZhT, IRRB Vice Chairmen Mr David George, CRC, Australia and Mr Andy Doherty from Network Rail, UK, as well as representatives from Korea - KRRI, Korail and EJR and RTRI, Japan, and AAR and TTCI from the USA and from UIC.
The meeting had effectively already begun, albeit unofficially, during the 9th WCRR (World Congress on Rail Research) organised by SNCF and its supporting teams at the Lille Grand Palais from 22 – 26 May, which most IRRB members attended. During the afternoon of the 25, the WCRR Organising and Executive teams met with IRRB members to discuss possible synergies and future cooperation between the two bodies.
During the official meeting, members looked back on the work carried out since their previous encounter in November 2010 and discussed how to make visible the research priorities of the UIC regions in order to identify areas where, in terms of regions’ common research needs, we could learn from each other and cooperate in future research projects.
IRRB Vice-Chairman David George (CRC, Australia) presented his views on the necessity of research information exchange and his ideas on how to make this operational. One important future tool will be the UIC Research Portal, currently under construction, which will be officially presented and opened to users during the UIC / IRRB International Rail Research Information Days to be held on 5 and 6 July 2011 at UIC HQ in Paris. A draft programme for these Information Days was discussed and agreed upon. All UIC members will be invited to this event.
Another important issue on the agenda was “Standardisation”, on which the chairman expressed a desire for an in-depth debate. The meeting was advised that a Standardisation Working Group (SWG) is being established under the umbrella of IRRB, populated with representatives from the UIC regions. Its role is to undertake a review of the existing family of UIC leaflets and to establish which leaflets are up to date and could be converted into a “new generation” of UIC standards to be known as Global Rail Standards (GRS). The review would also examine those leaflets which may be out of date and could be withdrawn, those which are still important but would benefit from a more detailed review and update, and in which areas new standards are required.
The GRS would be based on the work of the Standardisation Working Group, and are set to be developed in conjunction with the technical working bodies of UIC (especially the Rail System Forum) and the supply industry in the same way as has already been done for TecRecs. There will be a close relationship with standardisation bodies such as CEN-CENELEC, IEC and ISO, with whom specific agreements are either already in place or are being reviewed and/or developed.
The detailed procedures for this work are being developed and will be one of the first tasks of the new SWG, which will hold its first meeting in Paris on 6 July.
The meeting reaffirmed the close link between research and the use of standards as a vehicle for disseminating research results. However, it was also pointed out that more focussed coordination of this standardisation work may be needed, which IRRB (as essentially a research body) may not in the longer term be able to sustain, especially as there will need to be close collaboration with UNIFE in particular.
Following a previous proposal to invite high quality rail research providers (academia and non-UIC member rail research institutes) into the IRRB network, a set of selection criteria was discussed and decided upon. New members to the IRRB are very much welcome and an easy-to-use application form will be available via the UIC Research Portal, which will soon be operational.
Finally, plans were discussed for the UIC Global Railway Awards, the aim of which is to stimulate innovation in the rail system, leading to lower costs and higher efficiency, quality and service. The intention is for the first set of these annual Awards to be presented during the December 2012 General Assembly as part of UIC’s 90th anniversary celebrations.