The twelfth conference of the International Heavy Haul Association IHHA was held in Rio de Janeiro in late August (https://ihhario2023.com/, https://ihha.net/). Representatives of heavy haul railroads, the involved industry as well as universities from all over the world met to discuss relevant topics and to exchange ideas among each other. Peter Veit, Stefan Marschnig and I were each able to contribute with a presentation and subsequent discussion. For me, it was particularly gratifying to see the international standing of Austria in the rail industry. This was reflected both by the high number of Austrian participants (many of them as speakers) and by the strong presence of domestic companies.
Afterwards, I used the opportunity to combine business trips with private stays to enjoy Rio a few days longer. This included a visit to the statue of Christ, a trip to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, and wonderful hours on the amazing beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. I was also able to get to know the other side of Rio, away from the beautiful ideal world, during a tour through Rio's largest favela (Favela Rocinha).
As an established European meeting place for railway vehicle manufacturers and operators as well as researchers, the "Modern Rolling Stock" conference will be held for the 48th time from 17-19 September 2023.
In addition to an exciting programme on topics such as digitalisation in freight transport, innovative drive and braking systems as well as wheel/rail interaction, parallel product exhibitions will take place, which will sensibly complement the presentations.
We therefore cordially invite you to join us at Messe Graz in mid-September and exchange ideas with international experts from industry and research! Further information on registration and the conference app is available here.
At the beginning of August, the Young ÖVG organized a network event at the central station in Graz, where, in addition to participants from all over Austria, a few of us were also present. First on the agenda was a workshop on the topic of "Inspiring young people for the mobility industry". In the course of this workshop, exciting topics were worked out and discussed together. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to take a closer look behind the scenes at Graz Central Station. We took a look at the dispatching control centre and the quick repair hall and visited the workshop. Probably the highlight of the afternoon for many was the ride on a Vectron. Some of us had the opportunity to take a seat in the driver's cabin and drive the locomotive for a few meters. At the following dinner, there was once again the opportunity to talk to and network with each other.
In order for tamping machines to be able to precisely align the height and position of the track during construction and maintenance, the current position of the track panel must be precisely measured and the deviation from the target position determined. At OeBB, this is done as standard with the "EM-SAT" measuring vehicle. The current track geometry is determined by a laser-based procedure in combination with reference measurements to measuring bolts on the overhead line poles. Correction values are calculated on the machine, and these are used as input for the tamping machine. During a measurement campaign on the Rudolfsbahn in the Wald am Schoberpass-Kalwang area, I was able to accompany the measurement team and learn a lot about this measurement system and the work in practice.
Together with the Institute of Railway Infrastructure Design and the Institute of Structural Durability and Railway Technology we had the great opportunity to go on an excursion to Plasser & Theurer at the beginning of July. After a late arrival in Linz, we were warmly welcomed, and a short presentation allowed us to learn more about the history and activities of the company. The following lunch strengthened us for the guided tour through the factory in the afternoon. During the tour, we were able to follow step by step how the track-laying machines are produced. The journey home to Graz was finally completed without delay.
At the end of June, I was able to accompany a tamping machine of the latest generation during a night shift on the western line in the area of Redl-Zipf station. The "Unimat 09-8x4-4S BR-Dynamic E³", presented at the International Exhibition for Track Technology (iaf) 2022, combines the work steps levelling-lifting-lining-tamping, dynamic track stabilization and ballast management in a single machine and can process both tracks and switches. In addition, the machine is equipped with the latest measuring systems which, among other things, record valuable information about the condition of the tamping section. The analysis of this new type of measurement data is being carried out to a large extent at our institute as part of a research cooperation.
In May 2023, the entire institute made an excursion to the Austrian open-air museum in Stübing. During an excellent guided tour through the museum, we learned many interesting details about the historical buildings, which show the everyday life of the farming population of the past. The exhibited objects come from the provinces as well as from South Tyrol and we could look at them from the outside as well as from the inside. We ended the afternoon with a snack together in the local inn.
The ÖVG Working Group Railway Technology (Track) will hold its 24th International Congress in May 2023. This time, possibilities for increasing capacity and availability will be presented and discussed in the three thematic blocks Technology, Efficiency and Environment. Reports of examples including experiences from the practical implementation of projects from all over the world will complement the scientific findings. All presentations will be simultaneously translated into several languages.
In addition, we offer young professionals the opportunity to present their current work in a separate block.
Furthermore, a demonstration at Salzburg's main train station will provide an overview of the latest technologies for increasing efficiency while taking environmental aspects into account.
In the course of the EU-funded research project "In2Track3" , I accompanied two night-time track maintenance works near Kristianstad, Sweden.
A tamping machine equipped with the latest technology was used, which can independently measure the absolute track geometry and calculate corresponding correction values for the exact positioning of the track panel. In addition, highly sensitive sensors on the tamping units record comprehensive data, which we subsequently analyse at the institute. This gives us exciting insights into the prevailing ballast condition and the achieved ballast compaction, which provides the basis for optimising planning and executing tamping works.
At the Intelligent Rail Summit in Konstanz (Germany), I did not only get the opportunity to give the participants an insight into the research project "Long-term behaviour of padded concrete sleepers on reduced ballast bed thickness", but also used the summit for deeper discussions and to network with experts from various European countries.
In November 2022, I was able to gain insights into research on all transport systems (rail, road, air, waterborne) at the Transport Research Arena in Lisbon.
With more than 2000 participants and numerous exhibitors, there were numerous opportunities for networking. Highlights can be seen on YouTube, my personal highlight was probably the third place in the TRA VISIONS Young Researcher (and the city of Lisbon). Details to my project and the great projects of my competitors can be found here.
In the course of a joint research project with Plasser & Theurer, ÖBB and SBB, I accompanied a night-time tamping operation at Wolhusen station. The target track geometry was restored in the station and the adjacent turnouts. New types of sensors on the machine measured various parameters, which we subsequently analysed and which should provide us with insights into the condition of the ballast bed and the quality of the tamping work. This will provide the basis for optimized track maintenance.
A beautiful city, sunshine, delicious food, a load of railway content and several inspiring conversations. This is how I would describe my days in Montpellier and my attendance at "The Fifth International Conference on Railway Technology: Research, Development and Maintenance".
With my talk about the condition assessment of insulated rail joints I was also able to contribute one piece of content. Thanks for the organisation of the event!
Longstanding cooperation with the Swiss Federal Railways repeatedly leads to exciting and also instructive excursions to our Swiss neighbours. In August, Matthias and I were able to show the SBB's asset management team ways of deriving the need for track renewal from measurement data of the track recording vehicle. We first analysed the data at SBB HQ and then inspected conspicuous areas on site, thus establishing a link between measurement data and reality.
The WCRR is considered the largest research congress in the rail sector. Participants from universities, railroads and industry were able to present their current research on a wide range of specialist areas and network with each other in Birmingham. Matthias Landgraf presented a research project on the decarbonization of track construction vehicles, while I was able to talk about intelligent tamping machines and the possibility of using them to record the condition of the tracks.
Quality over quantity - the Nordic Seminar on Railway Technology impresses less by the number of participants than by the quality of the presentations. We from EBW - Stefan M. ("Long Term Effects of Reduced Track Tamping Works"), Markus ("Evaluating turnouts using post-positioned measuring car data including the rail surface signal") and I ("Ballast condition assessment via tamping machine measurements") - were also able to contribute to the success of the event. The long evenings after the sessions (only after midnight did it become somewhat dark) were an excellent opportunity for a relaxed exchange with other conference participants.
A fixed point for all those involved in the construction and maintenance of railroad infrastructure is the regularly held International Exhibition for Track Technology (iaf). On the exhibition grounds, we (the entire EBW team) were able to experience innovations in the field of track construction from 140 exhibitors, ranging from further developments in track components and new types of hand tools to the latest track construction machines. The exhibition was also an excellent opportunity for personal exchange with colleagues from the industry, whether during technical discussions or at an evening get-together.