On 13 April, the members of the IRRB (UIC’s International Rail Research Board) convened for yet another useful meeting.
The meeting was chaired by Boris Lapidus – general director of the RZD Russian Railways main research institute VNIIZhT. After his words of welcome to many of IRRB’s global members, including Mrs Vicky Brown from ACRI – Australia, he invited UIC’s Director General Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux to deliver a short introductory speech. Inspiring as ever, Mr Loubinoux highlighted the ever-growing importance of research in the work of UIC, and in particular the role of the International Railway Research Board at global level. Many issues involve research ideas, developments or visions. The first one coming soon consists of the abstracts for the forthcoming High Speed Congress in Tokyo in July, which will focus on the vision for high speed over the next 50 years.
Also to be anticipated will be UIC’s close involvement in the World Congress for Rail Research in Milan and the Transport Research Arena in Warsaw next year. Mr Loubinoux also stressed the importance of the IRRB’s objectives to develop specific regional research and technical visions following the publication of the regional strategic visions released last year. The aim is to show a first report at the Assembly in Tokyo and to deliver a presentation at the General Assembly in December. He also stressed the contribution that railways are making towards the sustainable strategy and to the future declaration event to be held on 28 November as part of the COP21 meetings in Paris. He also thanked all the participants for their continued efforts in the research portal, in the preparation of the awards, and in the proposal of candidates so that the UIC Rail MBA open to all members can also include a number of technical and research engineers in its ranks. Mr Loubinoux also added that:
• Innovation will also be very evident during the Global Signalling conference to be organised at the end of 2015 or early 2016 in Washington.
• The ROC (Rail operating community) will be chairing ERRAC for the next three years
• A consortium made up of 14 European UIC members – EUROC has successfully passed the first important threshold to becoming an Associated Member of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking
After these motivating words, Mr Lapidus opened the floor on a new topic featured on the IRRB agenda, namely that of the “development of criteria for the innovative development of railways” a new topic which is of interest to many members. After an interesting presentation by UIC’s Axel Gougelet about “Innovation: what is it, what it is not” the members engaged in a brainstorm on the topic and will comment on two documents prepared by the secretariat.
Following this topic, the agenda touched upon all the elements of the IRRB Strategy document from Global Vision to dissemination.
The GVRD – Global Vision for Railway Development was presented in an updated draft form, incorporating recent comments made by MAV, SBB and AAR as well as by the members of the UIC Safety Platform. The document has been distributed to the UIC Working Bodies and the UIC Region coordinators for distribution and discussion.
It was decided that the GVRD will be presented in digital form to the UIC GA in Tokyo in July and that a final and printed version of the important document will be prepared for the December 2015 GA in Paris. All UIC members are invited to review the draft and to comment on it and to contribute if they haven’t done so yet.
Definition of global research priority areas + need for global standardisation - IRRB Strategic Document area 2 – will naturally flow from the GVRD and the first important issues have been presented during the previous meeting by IRRB vice-chairman Andy Doherty. It has already been decided to regard Energy & Environment as a priority area for innovation and proposals for implementation will follow soon.
Area 3 deals with the WOrld class Research Capacity plan (WORC), an activity which focuses on the identification of global capacity and capabilities of high quality support from the global academic expertise and research centres. This area is ably led by the IRRB vice-chairman Mr Jaroslav Grim of the VUZ Rail Research centre of the Czech railways. Instruments to measure the capacity and quality of rail research organisations including academia have been developed and a database is being set up which will be directly linked to the UIC research portal www.railway-research.org and SPARK www.sparkrail.org in support of the UIC members.
IRRB Strategy area 4 deals with Dissemination and exchange of knowledge & information. RSSB has developed – in close cooperation with Turkish State Railways (TCCD) and ACRI from Australia who co-chair this area – a survey aimed at the users and potential users of the UIC research Portal and SPARK in order to further improve the quality of service to the UIC members. It was launched during the meeting: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JP9VWH6 Please give us your opinion, it will take no more than five minutes of your time.
Finally area 5 was discussed, dealing with the evaluation of the 2014 UIC Global Rail Research & Innovation Awards and the preparation for the 2016 edition. The submission for the 2016 Awards will be opened at the occasion of the July GA 2015 in Tokyo. Issues discussed were the further development of the Young Researchers Award with a unified presentation template, the further precision of the selection and evaluation criteria and a possible sponsorship scheme to finance the Awards, the Award ceremony and the promotion of the Award winning ideas and innovation solutions.
The next IRRB meeting will be held back-to-back with the UIC GA in Tokyo in July 2015.