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Research into optimized and future railway infrastructure - S2R-CFM-IP3-01-2018
Deadline: Apr 24, 2018  

 Clean Transport

Specific Challenge:

In the coming years, we can expect a strong growth in rail transport demand, accompanied by aging infrastructure and growing effects of climate change.

With respect to the rail infrastructure, in order to face these demands, this call consists of research work aiming at enhancing, optimising and developing switches & crossings (linked to TD 3.1 Enhanced switch & crossing system demonstrator and to TD3.2 Next generation switch & crossing system of the S2R MAAP) as well as track systems (linked to TD 3.3 Optimised track system and TD3.4 Next generation track system of the S2R MAAP) including drainage management, in order to ensure optimal line usage and capacity.

The call also includes research on extending the life of bridges and tunnel assets (directly linked to TD 3.5 Proactive bridge and tunnel assessment, repair and upgrade demonstrator of the S2R MAAP) through better approaches for assessing, maintaining, repairing and upgrading these structures. The focus should be on proactive maintenance and operation of all these assets, considering the needs and costs across their whole life including disruption of service.



In order to address the challenges described above, the proposals should address all the following work streams, in line with the S2R MAAP:

  •   Further improve, develop and implement the whole system modelling approaches for track & S&C, to gain an understanding of how alternative asset designs, materials, etc. affect the overall performance of the railway system. The whole system modelling approach will be validated by simulations, which will enable faster implementation of new technologies by reducing timely and expensive physical testing. A hybrid testing approach will be taken, meaning that state-of- the-art simulation tools, laboratory and field tests will work collectively to provide a whole system assessment (up to TRL 6). In this context the action will make use of developments from earlier S2R IP3 complimentary projects in order to deliver the required tools for the track and S&C demonstrator implementation based on the design for reliability concept. These will use the following principles: Performance, Reliability, Availability and Maintainability and change managed through the Common Safety Method approach.

  •   Continue development of Track and S&C Technology Demonstrators (up to TRL 6) to meet functional requirements and establish efficient maintenance procedures. This includes modular track and S&C systems, non-ballasted Track Support solutions (i.e. slab and Asphalt Track), control of track stiffness variations in transition zones, advanced welding and repair technologies (e.g. induction welding) and the innovative use of materials and advanced manufacturing techniques (e.g. new rail material, additive manufacturing of crossings and other S&C components.) New rail concepts will also be considered, in addition to improving the performance of the current design. These concepts should reduce the environmental footprint such as noise and vibration from traffic as well as other pollution from the life cycle of the railway system.

  •   Develop proof of concept (TRL3) for a bespoke, localised automatic tamping operation (road- rail type vehicle) to enable localised repair of track geometry deterioration, going beyond the current state-of-the-art techniques, which include the use of large tamping machines that result in the disturbance of ‘good’ ballast during the treatment of localised track faults.

  •   Develop proof of concept for ability to monitor European-wide track stiffness in a more efficient way & establish thresholds for maintenance alerts & interventions. This will then be considered alongside the measuring and monitoring techniques developed in the wider S2R IP3 programme (TRL 3). Current state-of-the-art monitoring techniques can only be deployed on a site by site basis therefore a means of monitoring infrastructure is required to enable predictive and preventative maintenance in Europe, taking into account the relative outcome of the project SMARTE (GA H2020-777627). This will also enable track renewals to be optimised through site prioritisation based upon degradation rates and associated risk.


  •   Service life extension of bridges and tunnels by a combination of deterioration monitoring, proactive maintenance and upgrading technologies for enhanced performance (up to TRL 6). This includes technology for assessing fatigue consumption, methods to increase bearing and fatigue capacity, ways of mitigation of clogged tunnel drainage pipes, technologies for enhanced optical methods for tunnel inspection, and development of partly autonomous monitoring networks with on-site processing capabilities;

  •   Continue developing requirements for railway bridges for high speed lines. This includes enhanced understanding of dynamic effects based on tests or simulations in a relevant environment, for example, on a bridge not intentionally built for high speed traffic (up to TRL 5). This will include development of proposals for a modernised design approach including design limits for bridges and the interface with rolling stock, and enhanced knowledge to improve the potential of virtual testing and the tools for compatibility checks between the existing infrastructure and the rolling stock. It is expected that the results will pave the way for the closure of the related open points in the INF TSI. This particular workstream entails collaboration with the European Union Agency for Railways.

  •   Develop detailed specification including cost benefit and root cause analysis of the importance of effective drainage management within the track system; the impact on track geometry; and methodologies to identify drainage assets across the infrastructure (up to TRL 2). This will assess the true cost of ineffective water management across the industry.

  •   Develop process for identifying all drainage assets (buried assets); carry out horizon scanning for inspection techniques deployed in other industries for buried assets, to support development of a specification for pro-active inspection of the drainage system. This will involve data gathering, data analysis; and a specification for identification of drainage assets and pro-active inspection techniques for the rail industry to support effective water management (up TRL 3).

This action will build upon the successes and available results of existing and finalised projects, such as In2Track (GA H2020-730841) and S-Code (GA H2020-730849.) This action will take validated and available past projects outputs through to an early system prototype stage. This will run in parallel to incorporating further innovations and technology developments i.e. drainage management. A physical prototype of an enhanced S&C solution will be evaluated and installed for preparation of the final Technology Demonstrator. As part of the installation preparations, safety validation of the final system will be undertaken using the Common Safety Method – Risk Assessment (CSM-RA) process. European railway sites and test facilities will be assessed for hosting the final Integrated Technology Demonstrators (ITD) within future S2R activities.

The action expected to be funded from this topic will be complementary to actions carried out within the following topic:

  • -  S2R-CFM-IP3-01-2016: Research into enhanced track and switch and crossing system (In2Track)

  • -  S2R-CFM-CCA-01-2017 “Improving Railway Services for Users and Operators” (Impact-2)

As specified in section 2.3.1 of S2R AWP for 2018, in order to facilitate the contribution to the achievement of S2R objectives, the options regarding 'complementary grants' of the S2R Model Grant Agreement and the provisions therein, including with regard to additional access rights to background and results for the purposes of the complementary grant(s), will be enabled in the corresponding S2R Grant Agreements.

The action shall actively contribute to the S2R KPIs development. This shall lead to publicly available deliverable, quantified indicatively on a semi-annual basis.

The planned activities of the action should take into account the revised MAAP part A. The S2R JU will only fund one proposal under this topic.


Expected Impact:

The action will result in specifications, the start of Common Safety Method Risk Assessment activities to support deployment of the demonstrators, and production of performance indicators to assess demonstrator performance. The innovative technology developed will enable a change in building and operating railway infrastructure compared to present practised methods. With successful prototypes, capacity and reliability should increase together with reduction of costs for railway transports. Substantial contribution is expected in the following areas:

  •   Development of a framework for virtual assessment and approval with enhanced prediction capabilities;

  •   Improved LCC, RAMS and environmental aspects through enhanced design of track and S&C components;

  •   Design of next generation track and S&C components in order to enhance LCC, RAMS and environmental aspects;

  •   LCC and RAMS improvements through assessment and management of track and S&C status focusing on key parameters and relevant limits on operational conditions;

  •   Improved RAMS through monitoring solutions to obtain reliable and objective measures of the asset status;

  •   Improved RAMS and LCC through advanced maintenance and repair technologies;

  •   Reduced LCC through service life extension technologies including upgrading solutions for bridges and tunnels;

  •   Reduced delay costs from ineffective water management (flooding); reduced costs associated with track geometry faults; improved resilience to climate change; improved attractiveness of railway;

  •   Reduced costs for railway bridges on high speed lines.

Specific metrics and methods to measure and achieve impacts should be included in the proposals, with the objective to achieve by the end of the S2R Programme the quantitative and qualitative targets defined in the S2R MAAP related to TD3.1 to TD3.5 in line with the relative Planning and Budget.

The research and innovation activities results shall be brought in the form of a demonstrator and prototype(s) as mentioned here above in the context of InnoTrans 2020, including on the S2R JU stand, to show the impacts intended to be achieved.

Type of Action: Innovation Action

Public link:   Only for registered users

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