On 2 and 3 March 2017 two meetings of the UIC IRRB – International Rail Research Board were held at the invitation of Dr Andrzej Zurkowski, Director of Railway Research Institute (IK) in Warsaw and Vice Chairman of the IRRB.
The meeting on 2 March was the first meeting of the new Area 01 Working Group led by Dr. Zurkowski. The aim of this WG is to update the present version of the Global Vision for Railway development – GVRD – which has been endorsed by the UIC General Assembly in December 2015. A number of recent technological developments such as digitalisation, IoT, Big Data, satellite based navigation etc. have led to the decision that an update would be welcome. The meeting took the form of a brainstorming session during which many good ideas were brought forward. Important notions brought forward such as the fact that the updated GVRD document should indeed remain ‘global’ but should also take into account the huge differences between countries and regions (e.g. African, Asian, European countries).
When thinking of research, development and innovation, two streams are possible: research on issues very specific to railway as well as ‘translation of innovations from other fields towards rail use (e.g. new materials or maintenance in aeronautics, IT developments, etc). Flexibility is needed in the interpretation of technologies used for the sake of interoperability. Not every rail operator or infra-manager is obliged to use exactly the same technology as long as the systems can communicate through smart interfaces (e.g. ERTMS, ECTS, GNSS, Glonass...) It is important to look for flexible solutions, translatable to different situations. The GVRD should be a ‘balanced’ Vision, setting targets in a balanced way.
On 3 March the first Plenary IRRB under the new chair team was held at the IK premises. Following the opening, welcome and a very interesting video presentation about the responsibilities and activities of the Polish rail research institute IK, the members were updated on some of the European research and innovation related issues such as the EC’s H2020 Programme as well as the recent S2R developments, some facts about the UIC activities in the area of standardisation and the recent signing of the MOU between UIC and ISO.
Another returning important item on the IRRB agenda is “Research and Innovation news from the UIC Regions”. A number of interesting presentations were given about developments ad planning of hyper-loop activities in South Korea (KRRI), new developments in the USA (TTCI/AAR), new developments in Turkey (TCDD), research news from Russia (NIIAS) and the UK Capability Delivery Plan (RSSB). All presentations have been uploaded to the Research Workspace on the UIC Extranet.
Following these topics, the agenda listed the five working areas as described in the IRRB three year working plan. To start with, Dennis Schut presented the slides used by IRRB chairman Prof. Boris Lapidus during the UIC General Assembly on 1 December 2016 in St Petersburg. This presentation described the achievements accomplished over the previous three years as well as the plans for the next three years.
For each of the IRRB working areas the plans of the vice-chairs responsible for these areas were presented and discussed. These 5 working areas are the following:
- Area 01 – Update of the Global Vision of Railway Development – GVRD and the organisation of a global transport innovation conference
- Area 02 - Definition of global and trans-regional research projects based on the updated GVRD
- Area 03 – Research expertise and capacity data base
- Area 04 – Dissemination and knowledge exchange
- Area 05 – UIC Global Research & Innovation Awards 2018
The next two IRRB Plenary meetings will take place in July and December, in conjunction with the dates of the UIC General Assembly meetings. In addition, the meetings will take place using tele- conferences. UIC members as well as specialist rail research academia and research institutes are welcome to participate in the important activities of the International Rail Research Board – IRRB.