Innov'Day Rail: what innovations will revolutionize the railways?

Innov'Day Rail: what innovations will revolutionize the railways? - Ifsttar - InnovDay Rail_img

© Emmanuel Barraud / EPFL

The 2nd edition of Innov'Day Rail, which will be dedicated to disruptive innovations, will take place on October 10 in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, on Lille University's science campus. This is an opportunity for stakeholders in the rail sector to discuss new technologies that promise safer, cheaper and faster rail transport.

In the rail sector, is disruptive innovation - i.e. innovation that eventually replaces the technology that dominates a market - a fantasy or a reality? What is the role of academic research on this topic? "These two questions will be at the heart of the discussions at Innov'Day Rail 2018" explains Marion Berbineau, Deputy Director of the Components and Systems Department (COSYS) and coordinator of rail R&D activities at IFSTTAR. Intended for stakeholders in the railway sector (industry, start-ups, operators, researchers, institutions, etc.), the event will take place on Wednesday, October 10 in a venue dedicated to innovation, LILLIAD, on Lille University's Science Campus. "The theme of innovation is particularly relevant this year: the government has created an innovation committee whose priority is to support disruptive innovation". The rail sector is also involved. Members of the inter-professional body Fer de France stress that there is now "a consensus among the main players in the railway sector: we must innovate or die" as well as that "there is a real technological upsurge". Currently, several companies are developing safer, cheaper means of transport (low cost is considered to be a disruptive innovation) that is also much faster: the magnetic levitation technology used in the Hyperloop makes it possible to reach a speed of 1,102 km/h while its Chinese rival, the HyperFlight, will ultimately reach 4,000 km/h...

Fostering discussions around the technology of the future

What's on the agenda for the day? "Presentations of key concepts and technologies as well as round table discussions on deliberately provocative questions: do disruptive innovations achieve success on their markets? Does Europe encourage technological advances? Can the latter be created in laboratories, and if so under what conditions and for what purposes?” details Marion Berbineau. Among the technologies presented, the various solutions for very high speed trains will be described by Gérard Coquery, an emeritus senior researcher at IFSTTAR and an international expert in the field of magnetic levitation, a new passenger railcar concept called AURORA and Clip-Air, "an air transport concept consisting of a flying wing capable of transporting mobile, removable, capsules" developed by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Patrick Nierat, a researcher at the Institute, will also make a critical appraisal during his paper entitled "Disruptive innovations in rail freight, technical fascination, economic inevitability".

Organized by IFSTTAR, the Innov'Days are themed events whose aims are to "promote interaction between the Institute's laboratories and its socio-economic partners" and to "stimulate the driving forces of research and innovation in the fields of transport and infrastructure". Last year in Champs-sur-Marne, the first edition of the event brought together 115 participants on the "multiple challenges facing the rail sector".