The SUSTRAIL project “The sustainable freight railway: designing the freight vehicle – track system for higher delivered tonnage with improved availability at reduced cost”, a consortium project partially funded by the EC, officially started in June 2011 with the kick-off meeting organised on 14-15 June at Milan Polytechnic University’s Department of Mechanics, where Professor Stefano Bruni welcomed the representatives of the 29 project partners.
A sustainable and efficient freight transport in Europe plays a vital role in having a successful and competitive economy. Freight transport is expected to grow by some 50% (in tonne-kilometres) by 2020. However rail has, in many areas, been displaced from a dominant position as road transport services have grown and developed in capability and levels of sophistication that have not been matched by rail service providers.
The SUSTRAIL project aims to contribute to a new era of increased competitiveness of the rail freight sector by adopting a holistic approach, implementing a clear methodology and viable procedures for a combined improvement in both freight vehicles and track components. This deliberate approach has been conceived and will be developed to achieve innovations in both vehicles and rail infrastructures. New design (including aerodynamics) models and novel lightweight materials with a targeted increased in speed and axle-load will be implemented for freight vehicles, as well as optimised geometry, ground stabilisation and novel monitoring techniques will be adopted for higher reliability and reduced maintenance of the track components. The benefit will be an increased performance of the whole rail freight system (vehicle plus track), which will be assessed and quantified through the implementation of appropriate life cycle and costs analyses.
Finally, business cases will be produced to demonstrate that the contributions, solutions and innovations that SUSTRAIL aims to introduce in the railway sector are viable on real routes.
It is UIC’s aim in SUSTRAIL to support with relevant railway information and with recent knowledge from ongoing and recently completed R&D projects. UIC is responsible in the SUSTRAIL project for Dissemination and Exploitation activities and, as such, looks forward to transform many project deliverables into public practical results for the benefit of their members.