Wednesday 14 June 2023

6th UIC Harmotrack Project Plenary Meeting held at Roma Termini

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The UIC Harmotrack project met for its 6th Plenary Meeting in Rome from 24 to 26 May 2023, signifying another achievement for the project, after the 5th Plenary Meeting took place in June 2022. Hosted by Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, with the support of UIC and SNCF Réseau, the session took place in one of the most prominent railway stations in Europe, Roma Termini, which is also the most important in Italy.

The 6th Harmotrack Plenary Meeting was opened on 24 May by Nicolas Lestoille, Leader of SWG1-B Gamma, on behalf of Danilo Sorrentino, Head of the Vehicle-Track Interaction Section at SNCF Réseau, with more than 100 participants (representing infrastructure managers, railway undertakings and universities) from all around the world, and more than 80 of these coming in person. After an introduction by the SNCF team, Christian Chavanel, UIC Rail System Department Director, gave a welcome speech highlighting the value that the railway community created around the Harmotrack project brings and the importance of ensuring permanence for this community’s know-how in the future.

After this, the meeting continued with short welcomes from the UIC Infrastructure Sector Chair and Head of RFI Infrastructure Standards, Franco Iacobini, and the UIC TTI Sector Chair and Head of Area Strategic Partnerships and Coordination at ADIF, David Villalmanzo. Two roundtable discussions moderated by international journalist, David Briginshaw from the International Railway Journal, followed the opening session. The first panel discussion, the “Future direction of railway maintenance & operations and strategic game changers”, was presented by Marco Gallini, Head of the Mobile Diagnostics and Maintenance Vehicles Department (RFI), Lars Müller, Head of Testing and Chair of the Board of Railway Approvals (DB Systemtechnik), Atsushi Furukawa, Executive Director of the Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI Japan) and Iacobini. They gave an overview of the current status of railway maintenance within their companies, as well as the potential role of predictive maintenance in the sector, with the main focus being on innovative techniques including continuous monitoring devices installed on rolling stock, and new inspection tools such as drones.

The second roundtable discussion focused on digitalising railway operations, entitled “Can a digital shift in the railway industry be a new driver for railway technologies?”. The experts for this talk were Villalmanzo, Scott Cummings, Assistant Vice President – Research and Innovation (MxV Rail), Albert Wahba, Program Leader – Resilient Ground Transportation (NRC Canada) and Gilles Saussine, Head of the Vehicle-Track Interaction Division (SNCF). The speakers presented how their companies are implementing this digital shift and the current situation of railway digitalisation within their countries, including the integration of technology into day-to-day operations. They also provided information about innovative projects which their companies are currently working on, as well as pilot studies related to track monitoring and automation.

During the third session, selected Harmotrack members gave technical presentations, with the first being given by Hirofumi Tanaka, Senior Researcher at RTRI (Japan), related to the development of a train patrol support method using smartphones, for which a mobile application has been developed.

The second presentation was given by Yan Liu, Principal Researcher and Team Leader, Advanced Data Analytics at NRC (Canada), on VIA Rail’s ride comfort improvement using continuous track monitoring technologies.

The current focus of Korean research and how the railway system is organised in Korea was explained in the third presentation by Yeongtae Choi, Senior Researcher at the Track and Trackbed Research Department of the Korea Railroad Research Institute (KRRI). He explained how KRRI had been developing rail stress measuring technology and fatigue-based rail service life estimations, in response to increased traffic volumes and speeds on their network.

The final technical presentation was given by Dr Klaus-Ulrich Wolter, Senior Engineer of Onboard Infrastructure Monitoring, DB Systemtechnik (Germany), detailing the Continuous Track Monitoring (CTM) system in Germany and the way it is used within DB.
The first day came to a close with Lestoille asking for a round of applause for the speakers, the special technical presenters, and the moderator. He thanked them again for participating in the Harmotrack plenary discussion and highlighted the excellence of all the presentations and debates.

During the second day, the sub-working group leaders gave presentations on their respective groups’ progress:

  • SWG1-A: Study on the correlation between forces and acceleration – Group leader: Fatih Ünlü (SBB CFF FFS, Switzerland);
  • SWG1-B Alpha: Study on filters – Group leaders: Fulvio Cianci (RFI, Italy) and Hakki Kuçukkeskin (TCDD, Turkey).
  • SWG1-B Beta 1: Study on most dangerous combination of track geometry defects using multi-body simulation – Group leader: Huyen Nguyen (SNCF Réseau, France).
  • SWG1-B Beta 2: Study on the correlation between track geometry and acceleration using statistical analysis – Group leaders: Mélissa Faur and Alondra Alfaro (SNCF Réseau, France).
  • SWG1-B Beta 3: Detection of track geometry defects using machine-learning techniques – Group leaders: Alfonso Panunzio (RATP, France) and Cassandre Diaine (SNCF Réseau, France). Represented by Chonlapat Srisuwan (SNCF Réseau, France).
  • SWG1-B Gamma: Study of occurrences and risk analysis, transferring thresholds from reference vehicles to different vehicle and speeds – Group leaders: Nicolas Lestoille (SNCF Réseau, France), Maciej Pałyga (PKP PLK S.A., Poland) and Alfredo Peinado Gonzalo (University of Birmingham).
  • SWG2: Study on the optimised use of axle box accelerations – Group leaders: Stanislaw Banaszak (SBB CFF FFS, Switzerland), Olivier Vo Van (SNCF, France), and Claudio Somaschini (Politecnico di Milano, Italy);
  • SWG3: Study on the use of cheap and innovative systems – Group leader: Samuel Pelisson (SNCF Réseau, France).

After each of the sub-working groups’ progress updates had been presented, the last part of the second day was devoted to a special technical session. It started with a presentation from Russell Licence (Network Rail) regarding Network Rail’s interest in monitoring vehicles and from Mani Entezami (University of Birmingham) who explained the studies conducted on the procedures in monitoring vehicles at the University of Birmingham.

The second special technical presentation was given by Dr Niyazi Özgür Bezgin (Istanbul University-Cerrahpasa), who presented his analytical method for studying wheel flats. Dr Bezgin developed the Bezgin equations that define a coefficient known as the highest value of dynamic impact force [𝐾], in situations where there is a transition in track roughness, an elevation of the track, or if the train has a wheel flat.

To conclude the second day, Eneida Elezi, Head of Foreign Relations for Albanian Railways (HSH), presented Albanian Railways’ maintenance and rehabilitation programme, in line with the European Union Digital Agenda.

The third day of the event was dedicated to technical visits, which were organised by Rete Ferroviaria Italiana.

One of the technical visits consisted of seeing the Diamante 2.0 High-Speed Diagnostic Train and the ONA workshop, located in Pontassieve, 30 minutes from Florence. The attendees were able to travel to Pontassieve onboard the Diamante 2.0 while learning about some of the vehicle’s features. The train consisted of eight carriages and two locomotives, with real laboratories installed for measuring hundreds of parameters at 300 km/h speeds. The Diamante 2.0 has 98 cameras onboard and more than 200 sensors placed on the roof, in the undercarriage and on the bogies near the wheels to monitor data to analyse the railway infrastructure’s condition. This includes, track geometry and wear, wheel-rail interaction, the quality of energy captured from the overhead power lines, signalling and telecommunications.

After lunch, the attendees visited the RFI Pontassieve workshop, which has been the point of reference for the Italian railway infrastructure’s production, maintenance and repair for 150 years, especially in terms of turnouts and track equipment, such as for forging switch components and for flash butt welding and joint fabrication.

The OCC, Galileo 2.0 and Falco diagnostic trains technical visit
took place at the same time in Rome Termini, hosted and assisted by RFI. Antonio Corapi, from the RFI Diagnostic Services and Maintenance Machine Department conducted the visit. It started at the Rome Termini Operation Control Centre, where the participants learnt how traffic and communication with both trains and passengers is managed in one of the main rail transport nodes in Europe.

After the OCC, RFI discussed the main features of the Galileo 2.0 and Falco inspection vehicles, showcasing how technology and, as a consequence, predictive maintenance, have evolved in recent years, with the possible now existing of studying a large number of track parameters with the same vehicle at high speeds.

For further information, please contact the Harmotrack team at

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