This major European and international project, which will support R&D, innovation and engineering training in rail infrastructure, as well as promoting French and European technological excellence, is now ready to get under way. It will be based in and around Lille, in northern France.
Hubert du Mesnil, Chairman and CEO of Réseau Ferré de France (or RFF, France's railway-infrastructure company, playing a role similar to that of Network Rail in the UK), says: "The RAILENIUM project is a major asset that will help the French and European rail industry to play a leading role in terms of R&D and innovation."
RAILENIUM brings together the best state-funded researchers and manufacturers in France, and will soon gather the best talent from across Europe. The project has been selected for funding by the French government to the tune of €550 million, alongside another five projects focused on innovation and technology.
The equipment and research platforms that RAILENIUM will provide will be unique in Europe. This will include a 5km rail test loop, a tramway test track, a fatigue-simulation track, running trial facilities, and service structures. As part of the project, the main site of a campus of excellence will be set up in Valenciennes and the surrounding area, while a secondary site will be set up in the Lille area (both in northern France).
RAILENIUM will strive to meet the requirements of manufacturers in order to encourage innovation and enable equipment certification. This will be done through various public/private partnerships (PPP), which have been set up for research, training and innovation purposes.
The project will progress across three strategic fronts: developing a sustainable infrastructure; developing a better performing, more reliable and more intelligent infrastructure; and, finally, developing an infrastructure that is more easily certifiable. Work will begin on building the research centre in 2015, and it should be operational by 2017.
RAILENIUM, which was created out of the i-Trans competiveness cluster, has been developed around a consortium made up of a broad range of manufacturers (led by RFF), public-sector research bodies and regional authorities. The Nord-Pas-de-Calais Regional Council has lent a great deal of support to this project and has played a leading role in its implementation.
RAILENIUM's members include R&D entities and training bodies such as the Institut Français des Sciences et Technologies des Transports, de l'Aménagement et des Réseaux, or IFSTTAR (the French institute of science and technology, as applied to transport and planning), and Artois University; industry players such as ALSTOM, BOUYGUES TP, EUROTUNNEL, RFF and TATA STEEL; and, finally, local authorities such as the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Regional Council.
RAILENIUM's partners include the Union Internationale des Chemins de Fer or UIC (the International Union of Railways) and the Fédération des Industries Ferroviaires or FIF (the trade federation for railway manufacturers).
RAILENIUM, the European Institute for Technological Research in Rail Infrastructure, focuses on issues and developments in relation to railway-infrastructure projects. The institute's key facilities will be based in and around Lille, in the north of France.
RAILENIUM aims to promote R&D, innovation and engineering training for the railway-infrastructure sector. In so doing, RAILENIUM's objective is to promote excellence in French and European technology.For further information, please go to:www.i-trans.org
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