IRR to participate in €18 million In2Rail programme
3 June 2015 • Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review
The University of Huddersfield’s Institute for Railway Research will be participating in the In2Rail programme to develop new technologies ensuring railways are fit for the future.
The Institute will be one of 55 partners taking part in the €18 million In2Rail programme, investigating new technologies such as “self-correcting”, maintenance-free tracks and novel switches and crossings.
The EU has given the go ahead to an ambitious, six-year initiative named Shift2Rail, co-financed by the private sector. Its three main targets are to boost the capacity of Europe’s railway network to cope with soaring demand; increase the reliability and quality of rail services; and make big reductions in costs.
As a vital preliminary, the EU has announced three railway research programmes – dubbed “lighthouse projects” – that will feed into Shift2Rail. They are named Roll2Rail, which will cover rolling stock; IT2Rail, which deals with information technology; and In2Rail, which investigates track and infrastructure and will be led by the UK’s Network Rail and Swedish railway administrator Trafikverket.
The IRR’s Head of Research, Dr Yann Bezin, said that the team would effectively be starting with a blank sheet of paper, as if railways were a completely new concept, without their long history.
“We will trying to do something radically different and eliminate as much as possible the failure modes that are associated with the existing system,” said Dr Bezin.
Smart tracks embedded with sensor technology and mechatronics will also be investigated enabling the system to monitor for damage and self-adjust over time to compensate for normal wear and tear. This ultimately will reduce disruption and enable 24-hour freight operation.
Director of the IRR, Professor Simon Iwnicki, added: “It is difficult, but it is achievable with smart systems and smart structures. And if you do have to suspend services, you only do it when it is absolutely necessary, plan it in advance and get in and out quickly.”
In European Railway Review Issue 3 2015, James Lewis, Network Rail’s Head of European Research and Development Programme, contributed an article about In2Rail from the infrastructure manager’s perspective. To read the article, click here to subscribe for free.