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France launches in Valenciennes a new research program on transport safety


France launches in Valenciennes a 6,4 million euro research program on transport safety. It reinforces the international position of Nord-Pas de Calais and the University of Valenciennes.

The scientific council of the New Research Action “Safety in Transport Systems”, which came together at the University of Valenciennes and Hainaut-Cambrésis on the 31st of January 2002, has just validated and launched a program composed of 7 projects stretched out until 2006. 6,4 million euros will be allocated to this program, of which 4,12 million euros funded by the Ministry of Research. The partners are 7 laboratories (among which 5 units linked to the National Centre for Scientific Research ) being part of the universities of Valenciennes and Lille 1, the French National Institute for Transport and Safety Research and the French National Aerospace Research Establishment .

The New Research Action “Security in Transportation”, announced in February 2001 by Minister of Research R.-G. Schwartzenberg, has sprung from the common will of the Regional Council and the Ministry to reinforce research activities in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.

The projects

The 7 complementary projects cover the essential needs of the industries
for ground transportation safety , from the design of materials to the global traffic safety :
  • mechanics, materials and structures : fatigue, crash.
  • bio-mechanics of movement and shock.
  • communications reliability and electromagnetic compatibility.
  • human reliability in transportation systems.
  • braking.
  • control and optimisation of transportation networks.
  • global traffic safety .

National plate-form?

During its first meeting in Valenciennes, the scientific council has advocated :

  • a real interaction between the 7 projects by means of a global system approach (for instance the robustness of materials has an effect on human shocks and vice versa ; the research in the braking domain interacts with the 2 former themes and strongly implies the global traffic safety).
  • a rapid international opening within the framework of European projects.
  • a strong European visibility through the creation of an institute federating the involved research laboratories.

Finally, the CNRS recommends the constitution, in the Nord-Pas de Calais region, of a national research plate-form which would be supported by the facilities (7,77 million euros of investment over 6 years) available at the partner sites: driving simulator, brake bench, catapult (crash), gesture measurement bench, rapid prototyping, infrared thermography...

The scientific council of the New Research Action “Safety in Transport Systems”, the role of which it is to orient and evaluate the program, is composed of representatives coming from railway and automobile industries (Alstom, Bombardier, PSA), research centres belonging to manufacturers (Renault, PSA), Transport Operators (SNCF: French national railway company ,...), and universities (Delft in the Netherlands, Dresden in Germany, Mons in Belgium, Bordeaux I, Clermont-Ferrand, Compiègne, and Valenciennes).

Furthermore, a steering committee follows the progress of the project, particularly in its financial aspects. This committee is composed of representatives belonging to the Ministries of Research, Transportation, the Regional Council of Nord-Pas de Calais, the large research organisms (CNRS, INRETS, ONERA) and the Universities of Lille I and Valenciennes.

Why the North of France and Valenciennes ?

With 43 000 jobs and several thousands of spin-off jobs in the industry services, the automobile and railway manufacturing ranks the Nord-Pas de Calais among the first European regions in this field (1st position of all French regions in the railway sector and 3rd largest in the automobile branch).

And since 1983, this region has structured its research activity concerning transportation around the GRRT (Regional Nord – Pas de Calais Group for Transport Research) . This pole federates more than 250 people and associates industrial Companies and Researchers.

So all requirements meet to respond to the socio-economic challenges of the ground transportation security and to assure a technological leap:

  • for the European railway area, it is a matter of taking into account the multiplication and the diversification of the operators (SNCF...) as well as the intensification of the traffic and the increase in risks.
  • for the road safety, declared “great national cause” in France, INRETS, one of the project-partners, is in charge with a national French mission for promoting research and development ; and the laboratories of the region Nord-Pas de Calais already lead activities aiming at active safety (anti-collision radar, vision, telecommunication reliability, human reliability...) and passive safety (crash and crash simulation, study of accidents, human vulnerability during crash,...).

10 laboratories involved in the New Research Action “Safety in Transport Systems”:

  • 7 laboratories (among which 5 CNRS units) being part of the Universities of Lille I and Valenciennes .
  • 2 laboratories of INRETS located at Villeneuve d`Ascq.
  • 1 laboratory of ONERA in Lille.

The staff directly involved by these research activities represent a total of more than 140 people (full researchers and Ph.D.-students). The program is jointly headed by Professor Millot (University of Valenciennes) and Mr Joignaux (INRETS) .

Jacky ETIENNE | alphagalileo

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