The “Innovation and Opportunities for Rail Freight in the 21st Century” held on 8 April 2015 at UIC Headquarters in Paris in conjunction with the EU funded SPECTRUM project final conference, reached a satisfactory conclusion.
Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, opened the general session by welcoming the participants and delivering a highly appreciated motivating speech, stating in clear terms the current situation of rail freight, its challenges and pathways to solutions, as well as highlighting a number of other relevant issues (NB: see also his opening notes during the IRRB meeting of 13 April featured in this edition of eNews).
Mr Tom Zunder, SPECTRUM project leader, then briefly presented the SPECTRUM project before introducing the two session streams which were held simultaneously, one being devoted to Vehicle & Technology Opportunities, while the other focused on Commercial & Operational Opportunities.
The conference addressed the following areas of rail freight transport:
• Temperature controlled goods
• Loading unit handling methods
• Railway vehicle dynamics
• Innovative vehicle designs
• Innovative rail freight markets
• Scheme appraisal costs and benefits
• Capacity management
• Policy and further research needs
Intended to be a comprehensive and open-minded approach rather than just being a specific SPECTRUM result presentation, the conference featured numerous speakers with acknowledged expertise from all relevant rail freight stakeholders. With the active support of moderators and an involved audience, the presenters contributed through high quality presentations to a better understanding of challenges to face, opportunities to seize, strategies to develop and actions to be taken in order to make rail the best mode for transporting any type of goods in optimal conditions.
SPECTRUM achievements received their fair share of attention. They were put in perspective with other solutions and the competitiveness, sustainability and efficiency objectives that rail freight intend to meet in the near future, paving the way for further research and innovation projects.
The SPECTRUM project acronym stands for:
“Solutions and Processes to Enhance the Competitiveness of Transport by Rail in Unexploited Markets”
SPECTRUM has explored the market opportunities for transport of low density, high value (LDHV) goods, utilising new and innovative rail concepts. Focus is on the extension of existing 21st century rail services and more visionary rail logistics services. Early project proceedings set the foundations for detailing concepts by defining technological and operational requirements.
Preliminary research was built upon with an assessment of existing conceptual designs and a shift in focus to assess technical and operational requirements.
SPECTRUM developed a detailed design concept for a high performance freight train that is efficiently lightweight, having driving performance characteristics that facilitate mixed running with passenger services and is capable of accommodating the required types of freight container unit.
Presentations given during this Rail Freight Conference and final SPECTRUM project event, including the closing Round Table discussion, can be consulted here: http://goo.gl/JUXSJz, while videos will be available in a forthcoming edition of UIC eNews.