INTRO: Over 700 research experts were urged to share know-how and knowledge at the sixth World Congress on Railway Research on September 28 - October 1

EATING HAGGIS, quaffing whisky and other Scottish cultural activities are now familiar to much of the world’s railway research community. As host city for WCRR 2003, Edinburgh was ’a beautiful setting’ according to Roy Allen, President of AAR subsidiary TTCI.

He warned delegates in a welcoming speech not to let this distract them from the business of cross-fertilising ideas and knowledge. ’Let us not let our pride stand in the way of seeking ideas from others. Let us not reinvent technology. Let us shamelessly borrow ideas from others’, he said in a call for railways to ’maximise the effectiveness of research dollars, pounds, euros and yen’.

Allen used a warning that North American private freight railroads, while making a ’modest profit’, did not earn the cost of capital, to highlight the ability of research and technology to play a vital role in meeting the challenges facing the world’s railways; these he listed as ’controlling costs, improving productivity and increasing market share’. Cost cutting was a recurrent topic during the event at a time when research budgets were under threat. It was essential, therefore, said Bombardier Transportation’s Director of European Affairs Andrew Foster, that ’research should never be done in isolation and must deliver tangible results’. He warned against ’ill-co-ordinated research on the environment, especially noise’, insisting that railways must consider research from a systems approach.

Richard Gostling of AEA Technology Rail, and Chairman of the WCRR 2003 Executive Committee, reminded delegates that ’customers are not directly interested in research’ and called for railways to tackle the challenges of sharing knowledge and applying emerging technology such as pattern recognition and real-time decision-making software. Among the 270 presentations were papers on artificial vision, wayside health monitoring, and satellite-based train control. Delegates also heard about development of High Speed Train Europe, eddy-current braking developments in Japan and Germany, aerodynamic performance, and progress towards lower emissions from diesel engines.

WCRR 2003 was organised by the UK’s Rail Safety & Standards Board, AEA Technology Rail, the UIC, the AAR, Japan’s Railway Technical Research Institute, and the national railways of France, Germany and Italy. The seventh WCRR will be held in 2006 in Montréal, Canada.

  • German Railway announced on September 17 that its roller-rig testing installation at München-Freimann is to close by the end of the year. DB said that the facility was no longer in demand from rolling stock and component suppliers.

    CAPTION: Delegates to WCRR 2003 were able to sample travel on a Virgin Pendolino after the Congress closed; the train was named City of Edinburgh by the city’s Lord Provost, Lesley Hinds, before it carried delegates to Glasgow Photo: Tony Zayachkivsky