IRS 2023

IRS 2023 Day 1: Lessons from Polish rail, and developments in rail monitoring technology

IRS "Class of 2023" Promedia

The Intelligent Rail Summit (IRS) 2023 has officially kicked off this Monday in Warsaw, Poland, at the Sofitel Victoria Warsaw. A look back to the first day. What is Poland doing differently? What are the challenges and opportunities of Greenfield developments? What does the future of onboard monitoring technology look like? These are some of the questions the speakers addressed.

“In the heart of Poland, a railway revolution is unfolding, with the CPK project paving the way for 2000 new railway lines. The forthcoming multimodal connection of Rail Baltica from Warsaw to Helsinki and the promise of Hyperloop making its home here, all converge to position Poland as the perfect host for IRS 2023,” stated IRS 2023 moderator Majorie Van Leijen officially kicked off the conference.

Speakers and guests from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, the Baltic states, but also Brazil, India and Japan, congregated in Warsaw to learn about and discuss contemporary developments in wayside monitoring technology for rail. They were first able to get acquainted with each other over lunch before the official kicked off.

‘Sofitel Warsaw Victoria is, for the coming days’, the place to be for managers in the railtech industry.

BIM for one of the most exciting rail infrastructure projects in Europe

Following a warm welcome by Majorie Van Leijen for the IRS ‘class of 2023,’ the first session on development in Polish rail began. Poland is home to one of the most exciting new infrastructure projects in Europe, namely the Centralny Port Komunikacyjny (CPK). The plan is to connect the CPK with each of the main Polish agglomerations ultimately in up to 2 hours, with a commercial travel speed of not less than 140 kilometres per hour.

The Warsaw-Łódź-Poznań/Wrocław railway line also holds a crucial position within the European Union’s strategic framework, specifically as part of the TEN-T European Transport Corridor North Sea-Baltic Sea. “Not only are we working from scratch, at CPK, but everything is being done completely differently compared to other projects in Poland.” explained the first speaker, Jacek Filipiuk.

As Senior Building Information Modelling (BIM) Manager at Centralny Port Komunikacyjny, Filipiuk presented how the public contracting authority managed to implement building information modelling in the Polish domestic market, what procedures and documents were necessary to develop to efficiently cooperate with contractors, and more. BIM is “not only 3D spinning models,” said Jacek Filipiuk. It is a structured way of working based on uniform standards and requirements. At CPK, BIM applies to the management of information throughout all phases of the project.

Jacek Filipiuk presenting at IRS 2023: “Everything is being done completely differently compared to other projects in Poland.” (Photo: Promedia)

Polish rail evolution or revolution

Following Filipiuk’s dive into the intricacies of BIM in the CPK project, Sebastian Kałuża, Product Development Director at Nevomo, took the floor. “With over 9,000 kilometres of railway lines, Poland ranks fourth in Europe in terms of length, and while significant progress has been made, challenges persist. Currently, 30 per cent of rail lines in Poland require repair, making digital solutions and innovation critical,” he stated. The collaboration between PKP Polish Railway Lines and the National Centre for Research and Development includes a 2.5 million euro allocation for innovation projects, focusing on issues like rail buckling prevention and identifying areas at risk of overheating.

Diagnostic tools, including optical equipment for pantograph health checks and advanced diagnostic vehicles like DPD 660 and DP 560, implement machine learning for improved rail monitoring and defect detection. The human element remains crucial in the process, as operators work in tandem with intelligent systems.

Challenges on the horizon include enhancing the precision of intelligent solutions, developing the skill set of the workforce to effectively utilise these innovations, and addressing regulatory obstacles that may impede the full realisation of the benefits offered by these technological advancements. According to Filipiuk, Poland is taking its first steps in the digital transformation of its rail industry, and as it continues to evolve, precision, skill development, and regulatory alignment will play crucial roles in maximising the potential of these intelligent solutions.

Greenfield development

Andy Billington
Andy Billington speaking about Rail Baltica: “Don’t reinvent the wheel.”

Certain sections of the CPK project, as well as the Rail Baltica project, share that they are greenfield developments. Designing future-proof digital infrastructure for a greenfield railway project is no small feat. Andy Billington, Innovation and Digital Architecture Senior Expert at Rail Baltica took the stage as the fourth speaker on the first day of the conference. He shared his perspective on the opportunities and challenges that come with building a rail project from scratch, over a multi-year construction period.

The Rail Baltica project represents a significant infrastructure venture in Europe, marking the most significant Baltic infrastructure undertaking in a century. It stands out as a greenfield project that aligns with the advancements in rail technologies. This endeavour will create a high-speed rail corridor linking the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania with the European standard gauge rail network. As a vital component of the EU’s North Sea-Baltic TEN-T corridor, it promotes intermodality and complete interoperability. The project’s objective is to connect the North Sea-Baltic transport corridor by 2030, with specific sections anticipated to be operational by 2028.

Building a greenfield rail project from scratch offers the advantage of working without the constraints of existing infrastructure, allowing for a strong emphasis on digitalization and sustainability. This approach enables the project to establish its own foundations and protocols while incorporating best practices from the market, streamlining future maintenance and promoting data correlation across international borders. Additionally, greenfield projects like Rail Baltica or CPK can implement the latest technological and sustainability standards, contributing to reduced CO2 emissions and enabling a more energy-efficient railway. However, it also poses the challenge of predicting future technological advancements and evolving regulations, necessitating a flexible and modular approach to digital infrastructure.

Latest developments in monitoring systems

Byron Porter, CEO and founder of Hum Industrial Technology, a company based in St Louis, Missouri (US) joined via video call.
Byron Porter, CEO and founder of Hum Industrial Technology, a company based in St Louis, Missouri (US) joined via video call.

Following a coffee break, the speakers and attendees reconvened for a series of presentations and discussions on the latest technological developments in rail monitoring systems. Monitoring systems come in many shapes and forms, and as a data source open up a world of opportunity, especially when you have the means to extract and gain insights from this data. This, then, can inform rail infrastructure management, guide maintenance and renewal demands and underpin Railway Asset Life Cycle Management.

Jan Lindqvist, CEO of Railway Metrics and Dynamics Sweden (RDM), provided insight on continuous railway monitoring technology being developed by RDM in collaboration with Trafikverket, the Swedish transportation administration. This technology involves sensors onboard regular rolling stock to provide real-time insights into the condition of railway tracks, wheels, and trains. This approach aims to supplement traditional, infrequent infrastructure inspections, enabling a higher frequency of analysis and facilitating condition-based maintenance, enhancing safety and efficiency. RMD’s sensors include the Performance Monitoring Unit (PMU), which detects wheel flats and defects, and other sensors for monitoring track stability, derailment, wheel profiles, temperature, and more.

The first day came to a close after a comparison of wayside and onboard monitoring technology. This presentation was given via video call by Byron Porter, CEO and founder of Hum Industrial Technology, a company based in St Louis, Missouri, in the United States (US). Porter delved into the fine details of the technological advancements that led to a sharp fall in bearing-related derailments in the US since the 1970s. Following a dynamic Q&A session, the first day of IRS 2023 came to a close, and participants made their way to Selavi Bar & Restaurant, to further discuss the topics of the day over pierogi.

Further reading:

Author: Emma Dailey

Emma Dailey is an editor at RailTech.com and RailTech.be.

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