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iaf Congress on Rail Infrastructure Works

Advances in digitalisation, shortage of skilled staff

For the third time the iaf Congress on Rail Infrastructure Works was held in Münster in May 2019. A meeting point for sector experts to discuss the current situation and find out about new developments.

“Track to the Future” – around 220 participants from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and some other countries followed this motto and attended the congress. The track not only leads to the future but there will be no future without rail traffic. Furthermore, it will be necessary to invest heavily in maintenance and expansion to meet demand. The representatives of many renowned companies, authorities and organisations agree on this and the issue of the strained staffing situation: There is currently a lack of young talent in the railway sectors. Another widely discussed topic was digitalisation.

Example of use – EM100VT

A prime example for digitalisation is the “digital twin” of the track. Laser measurements, camera data and exact location combined result in a true-to-reality data image of the line which is created as a so-called point cloud. A pioneer in the technology for creating the data used as a basis for any infrastructure planning is the EM100VT track recording car that has been upgraded with digital technology. Its technology and practical use were introduced in Münster by Dr. Florian Auer (Plasser & Theurer) and Dipl.-Ing. Marc Kückmann (Obermeyer Planen + Beraten), using a case study: the high-speed line Hanover-Göttingen was recorded using the EM100VT as part of its on-going rehabilitation. Even at 80 to 100 km/h it is still possible to perform a highly accurate survey of the track geometry.

The fight against the shortage of skilled staff

There is currently a noticeable shortage of engineers and skilled staff in the industry. There is a shortage of train drivers, railway construction engineers and specialists for construction planning and supervision – and this with increasing rail traffic and an increase in renewal and new construction requirements. One way out of this misery is well-founded training. Antonio Intini, Head of PMC Rail International Academy, introduced the internet-based, non-commercial knowledge resource and its English-language twin, both managed by PMC Rail.

Trade exhibition and technical demonstration

The two-day congress in the Münsterland hall was accompanied by a trade exhibition in the foyer. A small technical demonstration took place in the outdoor area, showcasing a rail-road excavator, a grinding machine and one of the new track working vehicles that Plasser & Theurer is currently delivering to DB Netz AG.