Research & ExpertiseMajor projects Railenium: Railway infrastructure and its interfaces

Railenium: Railway infrastructure and its interfaces

An institute that is dedicated to railway research

Railway infrastructure and its interfaces

The Railenium project is backed by a large consortium drawn from industry and research organizations and was selected as an IRT (Technological Research Institute) as part of the Future Investments Programme (funded by the large national loan that was launched in 2010). Railenium’s main goals are: to enhance the performance of railway infrastructure (increasing track service life by 30% and track capacity by 20%) and to achieve the rapid international success of the new products it develops. The IRT consists of a main campus (Valenciennes and Aulnoye-Aymeries - Bachant) and two secondary campuses (Lille - Villeneuve d'Ascq and Compiègne). IFSTTAR will mainly be involved at the Villeneuve site, but IFSTTAR’s other sites will also have a presence elsewhere.

The Railenium IRT has two operational bodies:

  • one, the Foundation for Scientific Cooperation, was set up by the Decree of 26 October 2012 after approval of its statutes. Its role is to develop a research, development and innovation strategy that targets railway infrastructure and systems, setting up R&D projects and carrying out research, development, applications and training activities. It has a presence at the three main and secondary campuses and has its head offices at Valenciennes.
  • the other, which is still to be set up, is a European Rail Testing Centre (CEEF) to be developed and run by a company. This will have major test facilities at the disposal of the Foundation’s Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) strategy and provide tests and services for the railway industry. Its head offices will be at Bachant.

8 Work Programmes (WP) have been put in place, two of which (WP2 and WP4) are managed by IFSTTAR.

  • The first (WP2) involves full-scale tests on civil engineering structures under a real train. These tests will be conducted on geotechnical structures, engineering structures, various designs of track and switches, and maintenance procedures. This group’s research activities will essentially focus on the behaviour of ballast, concrete slabs, asphalt ballast and the effect of dynamic loads on innovative environmentally appropriate structures.
  • The second Work Programme (WP4) is concerned with intelligent interaction between the infrastructure and vehicles. Its goals are: to create tools and methods that enhance rail operation and management and develop innovative control-command and signalling systems. This Work Programme will thus attempt to improve safety systems and optimize both the performance of signalling systems and railway capacity. The programme will not ignore telecommunications, as also intends to develop wireless communication systems that are robust, reliable, precise and suited to the railway environment, as well as to design effective positioning systems.

The aim of these studies is to make the French and European railway sector more competitive in the face of increasingly fierce international competition. Achieving this depends on the development of partnerships 2i and the sharing of R&D resources, by supporting innovation in SMEs and by training aimed at various groups ranging from technicians working in the field to international experts.



iThe founder members of “Railenium” were Alstom, Bouygues TP, Eurotunnel, RFF, Vossloh-Cogifer, Pole i-Trans (TTP), IFSTTAR, Université Lille 1, UTC (Compiègne) and UVHC (Valenciennes).