The Technical Seminar programme at Railtex/Infrarail 2021, arranged and hosted by Rail Business Daily, gives exhibitors the opportunity to talk about their latest developments to an enquiring and knowledgeable audience.
A total of 20 exhibitors will get their chance to present details of their latest product, service or concept to delegates who are attending the UK’s leading railway industry exhibition at Birmingham’s NEC.
For many, this will be the first time they have been able to meet people face-to-face, and to see and handle this year’s crop of innovations, and to ask questions directly of industry experts.
The programme will be hosted by RBD Publications managing editor Nigel Wordsworth, a degree-qualified engineer and a well-known commentator on rail industry affairs, who has been a regular at Railtex and Infrarail since 2008.
The Rail Business Daily Technical Seminar programme will be a popular attraction, so delegates are advised to plan their visits and take their seats early for a series of enthralling presentations.
Every talk will be followed by a question-and-answer session, but time will be limited, so be prepared to get your questions in when asked.
Above all, enjoy Railtex/Infrarail – and welcome back to normality!
Tue 10:30 – FlexMSE – Vegetated Retaining Walls
Rosie Birkett, Head of Sales, Gravitas International for Scott Parnell (Hall 11 Stand N17)
Retaining walls and vegetation are not often seen as going hand in hand. But, with FlexMSE, Scott Parnell’s vegetated retaining wall system, that is exactly what users get.
A combination of geotextile bags and interlocking plates allow structural retaining walls to be built in a modular and flexible way, allowing structures to curve and flow with the natural environment. The omission of steel, concrete, or often both, is a huge movement towards the nation’s net zero ambitions. Furthermore, a system that can be seeded or planted after installation becomes a carbon-neutral structure and, when carbon recovery has been achieved, the structure begins its journey into carbon negativity.
Build is permanent with a 120-year ASTM design life and the vegetation can be designed to meet site requirements. Most commonly, the surface face is hydroseeded with small seed mixtures such as grass, wildflowers or a combination of the two. A fully landscaped finish can also be achieved. Vegetation can be matched to existing plant life or to encourage new insect and wildlife to the area awarding it with biodiversity.
This presentation will explain how FlexMSE can withstand unlimited differential settlement, supporting areas where there is ground movement. It scores 21 BREEAM credits, installs quicker and cheaper than traditional retaining wall products and, impressively, when compared to a concrete block system, offers a saving of 97 per cent of greenhouse gases generated.
Tue 11:10 – Anderton – A UK manufacturer at the heart of sustainability and Innovation
Neil Cross, National Sales Manager, Anderton Concrete (Hall 11 Stand N37)
Anderton Concrete has a wealth of experiencing in supplying cable troughing and associated products to the industry for over 20 years. National Sales Manager Neil Cross will be taking delegates through the supply of carbon efficient products, innovative products, Anderton’s responsibilities as a manufacturer regarding sustainability and its environmental awareness that challenges the perception of the industry.
Anderton’s ‘Eco’ trough and its precast capabilities will be highlighted as two areas in which innovation has come to the fore and where Anderton has worked closely with its customer base to provide solutions.
The rail industry has embraced the need for carbon reduction and understands that rail travel is among the most efficient and lowest emitting modes of transport. All those involved in the industry have a part to play in this – Anderton is no exception and will look to explain how it is tackling this issue.
As part of the Ibstock group, Anderton has been able to procure 100 per cent of its energy from renewable sources. This is one example of how Anderton has understood its responsibilities as a manufacturer and will explain why it has ambitions to be the most sustainable manufacturer of concrete products in the UK, concentrating on the four areas of customers & suppliers, environment, people and communities.
Tue 11:50 – Trackworker protection, a digital solution from Hitachi
Matthew Diggle, Engineering Manager, Hitachi Information Control Systems Europe (Hall 11 Stand P16)
Keeping trackside workers safe on Britain’s busy and complex rail network is a vital task. The existing processes, including safe systems of work planning and line blockages, are effective when applied well but they can be time-consuming and cumbersome, and sometimes people make mistakes or take shortcuts, occasionally with tragic consequences.
Hitachi is developing a novel system which offers both increased safety and improved efficiency. It operates in parallel with the existing processes, independently calculating what signalling protection is required to protect a work site, and doesn’t require any lineside equipment, although, if devices such as TCODs are present, it can interface with them.
It formalises communication between trackside and signalling staff and displays information about signalling protection to both parties. By monitoring lineside infrastructure, it can provide warnings about unexpected events, such as SPADs or runaway vehicles that approach a line blockage, and it can filter out potentially unsafe commands by sitting between signalling control systems, including panels and VDU-based workstations, and relay or electronic interlockings, without needing changes to either of them.
Tue 12:30 – CTM: the future of managing training and competencies
Jeroen Boomsma, Client Director, and Charles Kennedy-Markham, Product Owner, Competency Training Marketplace™ (CTM), powered by Sopra Steria (Eagle Lab – Hall 12 Stand L83)
As employers grapple with a complicated regulatory environment, they need a fast, simple solution to keep projects on track.
CTM is the integrated competency management and training marketplace platform that allows business to work smarter. CTM director Jeroen Boomsma, and product owner Charles Kennedy-Markham will take delegates through their platform, showing how easy it is to use the one-stop shop to book and manage workforce training, keeping businesses fully compliant and operational.
Jeroen and Charles will cover key features including:
- Dedicated dashboard to allow you to visualise your training matrix smarter;
- How to create role frameworks to help you define training requirements within your organisation;
- Smart analytics to help inform business decisions using easy-to-read data;
- Skills-gap analysis tools to better pinpoint missing competencies;
- Clever use of an integrated marketplace to keep your competency management needs in one place
CTM’s creator Sopra Steria has used an in depth knowledge of rail and its skills as a European leader in consulting, digital services and software to provide the industry with a smarter way to work. Sopra Steria places people at the heart of everything it does and is committed to making the most of digital technology to build a positive future for its clients.
Tue 13:10 – Track warning – for now and the future
Neil Bradbury, UK Managing Director, Schweizer Electronic (Hall 11 Stand N16)
In his presentation to Railtex/Infrarail, Neil Bradbury, will give a realistic overview of how the Schweizer Electronic Group has developed systems that allow for greater flexibility in the area of track safety, in particular how the development of Automatic Sector Switching systems can only benefit track working.
For over 50 years, Schweizer Electronic AG has been developing and manufacturing train detection and warning systems. Still owned by the Schweizer family with headquarters in Switzerland, the group’s goal is to increase safety while also improving access efficiency, user friendliness and worker productivity.
Today, Schweizer Electronic is the market leader in Europe for on-track automated protection on busy railways for both passenger and freight lines. Railway automation and high-availability radio systems complement the product range and market segments.
Supplying countries across Europe and globally, Schweizer Electronic provides a range of products including Automatic Track Warning Systems (ATWS) and Lookout Operated Warning Systems (LOWS) for temporary worksites, permanent Signal Controlled Warning Systems (SCWS), and FLEX level crossings.
Schweizer Electronics’ core competences centre on high security remote control and radio data transmission systems, along with interactive diagnostic systems for use wherever safety and efficiency are important.
Within the company, all operating processes are governed and certified in accordance with ISO 9001:20015 and CENELEC EN 50126-1:2017 / EN 50126-2:2017.
Tue 13:50 – Innovation in the Rail Sector: Concrete on a Roll
Gavin Adams, Technical Sales – Midlands & North, Concrete Canvas (Hall 12 Stand D30)
GCCMs (Geosynthetic Cementitious Composite Mats) have been widely used by Network Rail across the UK for over ten years and are an industry-accepted alternative to conventional concrete. The geosynthetics have been specified by Route Directors, Senior Asset Engineers (Drainage) and minor works teams across the five Network Rail regions and their 13 routes.
Offering a lower carbon, environmentally sensitive solution for erosion control and weed suppression applications when compared to traditional concrete solutions, GCCMs have been extensively used through CP4, CP5 and CP6.
Concrete Canvas® is an excellent example of a GCCM, being BBA certified with a durability in excess of 120 years when used in erosion control applications. The majority of route network framework contractors have installed Concrete Canvas, including QTS, BAM Nuttall, Costain, AmcoGiffen, Alun Griffiths and Story Contracting.
Specified on numerous projects for Network Rail, Transport for London, Translink NI Railways and others, typical rail applications for Concrete Canvas in the UK include the rapid lining of crest drainage channels, culvert repair and weed suppression.
The presentation will explore the use of GCCMs in the rail sector since their first use in 2009 and how it is rapidly establishing itself as the construction material of choice with network providers worldwide. Its speed and ease of installation means Concrete Canvas is well suited to time-critical track-side work, reducing line possession and improving safety.
Tue 14:30 – Tender planning essentials for success
Tom Hudson, Managing Director, Market Infra (Hall 12 Stand L60)
Too often, when a tender lands, there is a scramble to assemble a team, understand what the customer is looking for and engage sub-contractors without the time available to consider a winning bid strategy.
Market Infra was set up in 2016 and is an independent consultancy working across every aspect of today’s built environment. Working together, Market Infra helps its clients solve their most complex challenges – turning exciting ideas into tangible reality as they strive to find a better way and shape a better world.
Recognising that delivering business growth and certainty requires a unique set of skills during the pre-construction phases of project development, Market Infra’s team of specialists is involved in all aspects of pre-construction activities, ranging from market analysis, bid strategy and preparation to contract negotiation and supply chain management in order to secure projects and frameworks.
During his talk, Tom Hudson will take delegates through some of Market Infra’s proven pre-tender planning tools that will set them up for success, improving customer engagement and win rates.
Tue 15:10 – Graphene – The Future in Corrosion Technology
Andy Gent, Commercial Director, Applied Graphene Materials for Blocksil (Hall 11 Stand N18)
Graphene is an exciting and thoroughly 21st Century material. First isolated in 2004 at the University of Manchester, it has, in its purest form, a molecular structure comprising of a single layer of carbon atoms bonded in a hexagonal structure.
The graphene used in Blocksil corrosion-resistant coatings is manufactured by Applied Graphene Materials in the UK using a patented, synthetic, bottom-up process that is repeatable, proven and almost completely free of graphitic impurities, Graphene Oxide or transition metals.
Graphene possesses an unsurpassed combination of mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties. It has an extremely high aspect ratio, considerably higher than conventional additives such as MIO (micaceous iron oxide) or glass flake.
This presentation will demonstrate how graphene enhances corrosion resistance and coating adhesion. For example, in the ISO 9227:2017 neutral salt spray test, an astonishing 11,800 hours was achieved, while the addition of graphene improves coating adhesion after 5,000 hours by 45 per cent over a more conventional coating.
Blocksil’s main graphene enhanced Blocksil coating has been successfully fire tested and the company is currently working on adding graphene into other coatings and paints, such as two-pack primers and an aerosol applied industrial etch primer.
Finally, the presentation will show graphene enhanced coatings in use and explain the benefits of Blocksil coatings.
Wed 10:30 – Improved automatic counting provides real-time passenger information
Phil Linnecor, Director, Acorel (Hall 12 Stand G36)
For more than 30 years, Acorel has been providing automatic counting solutions to the passenger transport industry. Those solutions have assisted transport operators on understanding passenger travel behaviour and trends, with the ultimate goal of improving the service to meet the changing travel demands.
As the transport industry slowly returns back to normal following the COVID-19 outbreak, Acorel’s Phil Linnecor will look at how real-time passenger information provides passengers with a stop/go solution to enable them to make an educated decision on whether it is safe to travel. Service planning solutions that incorporate machine learning to help operators decide which vehicle or configuration may be required to meet the projected service demands and platform crowd technologies that helps maintain a safe social distancing as we slowly return to normality.
In his presentation to Railtex/Infrarail, Phil will also demonstrate how passenger counting solutions are helping to level the playing field for passengers, following the introduction of wheelchair and pushchair technologies and how these technologies can be used to improve the travel lives of those passengers.
The Acorel automatic counting solution relies on sensors installed on the vehicle doors, which record the number of passengers getting on and off in real time. The data collected, enhanced by other systems (VMS, TMS, GPS, etc.) are then processed and analysed by the software Focus on Board, which produces standardized or custom reports.
Wed 11:10 – Extending a customer’s engineering capability through an innovative partnership
Julian Gill, General Manager, QuEST Global (Hall 12 Stand B38)
In the competitive markets of today, an intelligent approach to ensure competency can meet the peaks and troughs is that of ‘partnering’. Collaboration, in this context, requires partnering behaviours to be at the forefront of the relationship, sharing needs, opportunities and technology roadmaps. This requires a high degree of trust from all those involved.
The recent pandemic cannot be ignored, specifically the impact on the role and importance of the contingent workforce and the significant changes associated with more team members working from home.
At the heart of QuEST’s strategy is working with its customers to develop centres of excellence. These can provide the agreed strategic capability to meet their needs in addition to the more common tactical goal of providing additional capacity to facilitate smoother resource management for the lead contractors.
Julian Gill has over 20 years of professional experience in major infrastructure, with a background in safety critical systems. He is currently responsible for the Rail Signalling and Smart Mobility vertical at QuEST Global.
In his presentation, Julian will discuss these two points and explore the benefits and challenges associated with their success.
Wed 11:50 – Shaping the future of the digital railway
David Palmer, Vice President Main Line Rail (UK), Thales UK (Hall 12 Stand G57)
The impact of the pandemic and the government’s commitment to net-zero transport in the UK have combined to highlight the role that the digital railway can play in delivering a more reliable, resilient and lower cost railway that can accelerate modal shift to integrated public transport systems.
As a leading provider of digital signalling technology, Thales continues to push the boundaries by leveraging data to maximise performance and improve outcomes for passengers, operators and the environment.
The Thales Driver Advisory System (C-DAS), known as GreenSpeed™, provides unparalleled operational excellence by integrating with the ARAMIS™ traffic management system to optimise traffic flow and provide the ideal speed curve. This ensures strict adherence to the timetable, thereby providing a smooth journey that is energy efficient, as the C-DAS ensures punctuality with the least amount of traction energy used.
The move to in-cab signalling and moving-block technology can bring significant cost and operational benefits. Thales is a leading player in the development of ETCS Hybrid Level 3 (MAX) which combines signalling and train control in a single solution that works by digitally slicing each conventional block section into a number of virtual blocks, allowing operators to safely increase capacity.
Fundamentally, however, technology alone will not achieve the ambition of delivering a world-class integrated transport service. To achieve this, it is critical that organisations collaborate, and draw on expertise from other disciplines and sectors in order to create a transport service that we all in the UK can be proud of.
Wed 12:30 – Onboard Data Centre – making the connected vehicle a reality
Paul Vaclik, Head of R&D and Architecture, Nomad Digital (Hall 11 Stand P69)
To deliver the services that passengers expect, now and into the future, vehicles are being equipped with more and more systems to gather and analyse data, then to turn that data into useful services for passengers and operators.
This session will explore the challenges hosting and managing all of the software services required to achieve this vision and present Nomad Digital’s Onboard Data Centre solution set.
The Nomad Onboard Data Centre has longevity and is both upgradeable and expandable, reducing the proliferation of hardware requirements. It allows train operators to evolve their passenger experience and offer a tailored service, in turn, providing a fully connected vehicle and journey.
With technology constantly evolving, Nomad’s Onboard Data Centre gives the freedom and flexibility to integrate selected train systems, making it maintainable and future-proofed. It can support both Nomad and third-party applications, providing one commonplace with open Application Programmable Interfaces (APIs) for secure data sharing between applications.
This is cloud computing at the edge, bringing computer data storage and processing on-board where it is needed. Nomad’s virtualised on-board connectivity computing platform helps train builders create trains for the future.
Wed 13:50 – Rail milling explained – when to use it and the benefits it can provide
Elvis Kozica, International Sales Manager, Linsinger (Hall 12 Stand E17)
As both the number of passengers and the freight tonnage moved by rail increases every year, railways are being called upon to deliver an ever-more-reliable service.
Keeping the tracks themselves in good condition is therefore increasingly important – a task that has to be done without closing the railway.
Rolling contact fatigue, caused by the repetitive passing of wheels over the rail head, produces a variety of defects, including squats, head checks and gauge-corner cracking. These incipient defects need to be removed before they grow into larger cracks that can eventually break the rail and, potentially, cause derailments and accidents.
Grinding the rail, to remove the top surface and, at the same time, restore the design profile, is one traditional answer. However, rail grinders can only remove a thin layer of the surface in one pass, so removing heavy damage requires multiple passes, which slows the process down.
Rail milling, on the other hand, can remove much larger amounts of material, and deeper cracks, in one pass and without producing the sparks that can be hazardous in tunnels and other areas where flammable material is present.
Linsinger is a pioneer of this process, and there are over 70 Linsinger rail-milling machines successfully operating worldwide.
In this presentation, Linsinger’s Elvis Kozica will detail the process, explain the advantages of rail milling and discuss where it can be used to best effect.
Wed 14:30 – Performance modelling of Tensar reinforced soil walls under high-speed rail impact loading
Dr Basil Ogunmakin, Associate Geotechnical Engineer, Tetra Tech Coffey on behalf of Tensar (Hall 12 Stand F50)
The application of reinforced soil walls has been used extensively in close proximity to normal speed rail lines. However, further ‘engineering numerical justification’ was requested by the client for consideration within the high-speed rail corridor.
Load-bearing reinforced soil walls can cut construction costs by up to 75 per cent and halve build times compared with traditional solutions, while being robust and low-maintenance.
Reinforced (or mechanically stabilised) soil is becoming a standard way of forming cost-effective walls and bridge abutments on roads and railways, instead of the more traditional options that frequently involve piling and reinforced concrete.
The approach uses layers of geogrid to reinforce soil, increasing bearing capacity and increasing resistance to differential settlement. Reinforced soil structures have lower bearing pressures, which can eliminate the need for expensive foundations.
Tensar partnered with Coffey Geotechnics, together with input from the client, to formulate an appropriate model that would allow comparison of conventional reinforced concrete walls against the alternative reinforced soil option.
The model was successfully implemented, evaluating the behaviour of a Tensar reinforced soil wall subject to impact loading due to high-speed train derailment, which satisfied the no-collapse criterion.
Wed 15:10 – The future of trackside communications
David O’Connell, Managing Director, DBD Communications (Hall 11 Stand N04)
A UK manufacturer and supplier of wireless duplex communications, DBD Communications has been supplying the UK rail industry for 10 years, after receiving Network Rail product approval in 2011.
In his presentation to Railtex/Infrarail, David O’Connell will speak about what is to come next for technology innovation with regards to communications and safety for operating teams when working trackside. With technology and working practices continuously evolving, the industry is aware that spoken safety-critical communications are of vital concern.
During the seminar, David will be referring to typical types of working scenarios and identifying ways that a variety of communication and safety solutions can reduce risk and improve efficiency to these types of operations.
There are also ways in which the latest technology can be used to retrieve operational data, including voice recordings. This can support risk mitigation for operations – being able to retrieve such information will allow faults to be diagnosed and improvements to be made where necessary. Having a recording capability may also be a legal requirement, as it can establish the accuracy and timing of events, or it can be used for training purposes.
More on this capability, as well as other types of solutions, will be discussed during the seminar.
Thu 10:30 – Green Shoots and Grass Roots
Robert Hopkin, Head of Collaboration & Development, Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (Hall 12 Stand E10)
As the railway industry works together to come out of the pandemic safely, while at the same time embracing the content and the opportunities of the Williams-Shapps review, it is becoming increasingly important to find ways to add value to today’s and tomorrow’s railway.
Innovation and the introduction of new suppliers, including those companies diversifying from other sectors, will help to meet these new technical challenges and contribute to a revitalised decarbonisation agenda.
In his presentation, Rob Hopkin will consider how the relationship between the University of Birmingham, BCRRE and the National College for Advanced Transportation and Infrastructure (NCATI) can work to develop the supply chain companies’ workforce and address training, education and skills shortages. Railway supply chain SMEs are working with BCRRE R&D experts to deliver unique and innovative solutions as part of the BCRRE’s ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) Digi-Rail project (now in its third year).
Working closely with cluster partners on the European mainland, BCRRE can help innovative companies to increase their knowledge base and competitiveness to access markets outside of the traditional European client base. Rob will also update delegates on the United Kingdom Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), identified by the Williams-Shapps review identified as being essential accelerators, incubators, deliverers and collaborators for the much-needed modernising of the railway industry.
Thu 11:10 – Customer journey enhancement: Access to audio services in rolling stock and infrastructure for people with hearing loss
Jonathon Hoskin, Business Development Manager, Ampetronic (Hall 12 Stand D15)
Over five per cent of the world’s population require help to address their ‘disabling’ hearing loss. It is estimated that, by 2050, more than one in every ten people will have disabling hearing loss.
To give an example of the level of influence that deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers hold, they are part of the third largest consumer market segment but have the largest discretionary income. This figure doubles when families and friends are taken into account.
Although people with disabilities earn less than people without disabilities and represent a smaller share of the market, businesses should pay attention to this group for three reasons:
- Most businesses are not taking advantage of the nearly half a trillion dollars in market value of this population;
- Societal shifts point toward growing numbers and greater inclusion of people with disabilities;
- This presentation will provide realistic estimates of the purchasing power of people with disabilities.
In the UK alone, 12 per cent of travellers experience significant hearing loss, equating to over 400 million passenger journeys or £2.2 billion per year. For the transport industries around the world, the spending, political and societal power of this market segment has significant implications for regulation, legislation and performance.
This presentation will further detail the need for assistive listening and the opportunities that it represents. It will also identify the relevant standards and legislation; the assistive listening solutions that are available and where they should be applied, and how best to enhance the passenger journey for this influential and important group.
Thu 11:50 – Conquering corrosion on the railway corridor
Stephen Lewis, Senior Rail Consultant
Gordon Hodgson, Construction Account Manager
British Steel (Hall 11 Stand N71)
Today’s railways are under extreme pressure to perform. The ever-demanding challenges of faster train speeds, heavier axle loads and higher traffic volumes ultimately have a knock-on effect on railway maintenance. Possession times become shorter, so it’s essential to have an efficient infrastructure to keep the railway running like clockwork.
Corrosion is one of the main hindrances in maintaining the smooth running of the rail environment. Rust has the potential to reduce the lifespan of the railway dramatically and turn trouble-free track into a cumbersome corridor.
The British Steel team will discuss two distinctly different solutions, both formulated to address this specific and expensive industry issue.
Starting with the track, Senior Rail Consultant Dr Stephen Lewis will examine how improved corrosion-resistant Zinoco® rail uses sacrificial protection to continue enhancing the life of railways across the world, protecting them from the hazardous effects of salt and water.
Expanding into the surrounding features, Construction Account Manager Gordon Hodgson will then discuss how British Steel’s recently launched weathering steel structural sections are the perfect choice for a wide array of outdoor projects in exposed locations. Thanks to their self-protecting and durable nature, they offer an attractive and economic solution for many structures, including bridges, buildings and catenary gantries.
Thu 12:30 – Does your railway station comply with the Equality Act 2010?
Suzanne Saynor, Sales Manager, Visul Systems (Hall 12 Stand G30)
The Department of Transport is working with Network Rail to install station platforms with tactile paving. It is all part of a national strategy to improve safety and confidence for disabled people on the railways.
Visul Systems has a vital role to play in building back confidence in people returning to the railways now lockdown restrictions have been lifted and ensuring they are safe. As the originators of surface mounted tactile paving in the UK, the company’s passion is to empower disabled passengers to use the railways with the same confidence as everyone else – keeping them safe at all stations.
In her presentation, Suzanne will describe how Visul’s surface mounted tactile paving, which incorporates raised profiles to alert the visually impaired to a potential danger ahead, has been endorsed and installed with a trouble-free record for over 20 years by Network Rail and London Underground.
Most recently, over 100,000 Visul Systems tactiles will be installed on more than 200 platforms as part of a major station upgrade by Network Rail along the Kent and Sussex routes. Visul Systems chamfered edge tactile has been chosen due to the quick return to service along with time and cost savings offered when compared to other methods.
Examples of the seven different profiles of tactile that Visul manufactures in the UK can be seen on the company’s stand.