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RAILENIUM: an IRT specialized in rail-road technologies

Rai­le­nium is an IRT (a Govern­ment cer­ti­fied Ins­ti­tute for tech­no­lo­gi­cal research), a com­bi­na­tion of public and pri­vate sec­tor labo­ra­to­ries and spe­cia­li­zed in a domain of futu­ris­tic tech­no­lo­gies. In a limi­ted geo­gra­phic area, we find trai­ning, research and inno­va­tion-inten­sive acti­vi­ties. As such Rai­le­nium has the ove­rall ambi­tion to see inno­va­tion and col­la­bo­ra­tive ope­ra­tions contri­bute to the stra­te­gies of rail­road development.

Site web de l'IRT


The Rai­le­nium IRT relies on a strong eco­no­mic sec­tor, railways:

  • in essence, there is is a strong level of multi-disciplinarity
  • the assi­gned objec­tive is not only to encou­rage com­pe­ti­ti­ve­ness in the rail­way indus­trial sec­tors but also to contri­bute to attai­ning bet­ter per­for­mance levels in rail­road sys­tems (urban nets, high-speed and stan­dard speed pas­sen­ger car­rying trains) and their net­work mana­ge­ment systems.
  • per­for­mance levels attai­ned are direct­ly connec­ted to a good control of inno­va­tion challenges.

Rai­le­nium thus contri­butes to pro­mote more eco­no­mi­cal rail­way sys­tems, with higher capa­ci­ties, higher speeds, bet­ter safe­ty mea­sures, bet­ter punc­tua­li­ty, a redu­ced car­bon foot­print on the envi­ron­ment and open to the other Euro­pean EU countries.

Its inno­va­tion stra­te­gy – concer­ted and agreed among all the Rai­le­nium part­ners, will rely on:

  • taking into account the needs expres­sed by rail net­work management;
  • having the capa­ci­ty to pro­mote R&D concepts and ideas and to take pro­jects to indus­trial­ly viable levels; 
  • having the capa­ci­ty to assess and cer­ti­fy R&D pro­ducts using sizeable test rigs and to have faci­li­ties for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion protocols.


The Rai­le­nium IRT will have an impact on what we know about mate­rials and, in par­ti­cu­lar, in terms of their relia­bi­li­ty, their contri­bu­tion to lower car­bon prints. It will also have an impact on sys­te­mic pro­per­ties with safer archi­tec­tures that consume less ener­gy and pro­vide new func­tions (com­mu­ni­ca­tions, inte­gra­ted main­te­nance). Last­ly there will be an impact on advances in digi­tal model­ling and models that advo­cate lower R&D cost factors.

The Rai­le­nium IRT will enable France to bene­fit from – and even streng­then – its lea­der­ship in the rail­road sec­tor, with signi­fi­cant eco­no­mic and social fal­lout in the French Nord Region (and beyond) in terms of employment.

It will par­ti­ci­pate to the deve­lop­ment of the mobi­li­ty fac­tor (with moder­ni­zed rail­roads and urban trans­por­ta­tion modes, a prio­ri­ty assi­gned by the 'Gre­nelle' Envi­ron­ment confe­rence and by the SNIT (French nation trans­port scheme) and to deve­lop both urban and inter-urban trans­port modes, capable of run­ning at both high and very high speeds, com­bi­ning objec­tives of safe­ty, ease-of-use and of impacts on the environment.

In a context of deve­lop­ment of rail­road sys­tems in Europe and elsew­here round the world (cf. SNIT reports), the Rai­le­nium IRT clear­ly appears as being without its match anyw­here, com­pri­sing as it does a test loop for rail equip­ment for a rapid­ly expan­ding mar­ket-place: it is esti­ma­ted that the glo­bal mar­ket for rail­way infra­struc­tures repre­sents some 45 bil­lion euros (cove­ring infra­struc­tures, signals and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, civil engi­nee­ring works, bridges and ser­vices). French com­pa­nies today account for 71% of the natio­nal mar­ket and have some 43% in export ven­ture and contracts.

The objec­tives of the Rai­le­nium IRT in terms of mar­kets and jobs are as follows:

  • to see the frac­tion of French pro­duc­tion in the world mar­ket place rise from 3% to over 8% in a rapid­ly expan­ding mar­ket context ;
  • to see the num­ber of sala­ried wor­kers in the export sec­tors rise from 9 000 to over 30 000 positions.

Project patrons

The Rai­le­nium IRT was built on the foun­da­tions of the world-class com­pe­ti­ve­ness clus­ter i‑Trans. It is now an exem­pla­ry consor­tium, first­ly of an indus­trial nature with RFF (the rail com­pa­ny Réseau Fer­ré de France) and which groups toge­ther 24 com­pa­nies, among which we find ALSTOM, BOUYGUES, EUROTUNNEL, SNCF, equip­ment manu­fac­tu­rers from the FIF (the Fede­ra­tion of rail­road com­pa­nies) and SMEs affi­lia­ted to AIF (Asso­cia­tion des Indus­tries Fer­ro­viaires régio­nales).

Then we find the public sec­tor research repre­sen­ta­tives: 8 uni­ver­si­ties, engi­nee­ring schools and research esta­blish­ments mem­bers (finan­ced in part) by the Research and HE Pole of the Uni­ver­si­ty Lille North France.

Last­ly we have 5 local autho­ri­ties led by the Regio­nal Coun­cil for Nord-Pas de Calais and 8 other part­ners (col­lec­ti­vi­ties or public autho­ri­ties) to com­plete the consor­tium. This com­po­si­tion illus­trates per­fect­ly the skills deve­lo­ped and pos­ses­sed by the two French Regions Nord-Pas de Calais/Picardie in the area of rail­road spe­cial­ties and land-based trans­por­ta­tion in general.

The 10 founder-initiator companies

The UTC laboratories involved

Seve­ral UTC labo­ra­to­ries are invol­ved, inclu­ding UTC-Rober­val.

This is a point of spe­cial inter­est to UTC, com­mit­ted as it is in the the­ma­tic of com­pu­ter base vir­tual pro­to­ty­ping and digi­tal model­ling via the pro­ject CERVIFER, at the ini­tia­tive of Prof. Moha­med Ali Ham­di, who works at the UTC-Rober­val Labo­ra­to­ry and is a mem­ber of the Rai­le­nium Board of Admi­nis­tra­tion where he repre­sents UTC.

The objec­tive of this pro­ject is to increase the level of com­pe­ti­ti­ve­ness of the French rail­road struc­tures and indus­try thanks to inten­sive use of soft­ware packages for vir­tual com­pu­ter-based pro­to­ty­ping. "The rail­road indus­trial sec­tors still conti­nue to use often high­ly expen­sive test pro­to­cols to cer­ti­fy and qua­li­fy as 'good for rail ser­vice' the rol­ling stock and infra­struc­tures. If we com­pare this with the aero­nau­ti­cal and space sec­tors and auto­mo­biles where vir­tual cer­ti­fi­ca­tion are now com­mon­place, the rail sec­tors have lots of mar­gin to improve how they use pro­to­ty­ping soft­ware", unders­cores Prof. Moha­med Ali Ham­di. Vir­tual pro­to­ty­ping has enabled desi­gn teams to cut the tests by almost a fac­tor of two for phy­si­cal tests and conse­quent­ly this enor­mous­ly reduces the time (i.e., half as much) it takes to deve­lop a new road-wor­thy model. The objec­tive is thus to come up with an expe­ri­men­tal pro­to­type in the form of a soft­ware plat­form that inte­grates spe­cial modules to meet the spe­ci­fic needs of indus­tria­lists for their pre-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion requi­re­ments by cal­cu­la­ting the com­ponent parts for the rol­ling stock and infra­struc­tures. It is a col­la­bo­ra­tive plat­form that ensures ser­vices and expert eva­lua­tions and some of the module deve­lo­ped will even be marketable.

Other labo­ra­to­ries are inter­es­ted by the Rai­le­nium IRT. Rai­le­nium has its roots in the two regions Nord-Pas de Calais and Picar­die, but there is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to seek other part­ners beyond the 'inner circle' of the foun­ders, in France and elsew­here in Europe. It is to the other EU coun­ties that Rai­le­nium is now loo­king to Brus­sels (EU) who have a pro­gramme cal­led Shift2Rail in which 1 bil­lion euros will be inves­ted for research and inno­va­tion acti­vi­ties rela­ted to rail­road acti­vi­ties. "Rai­le­nium enter­tain s the ambi­tion to act as a go-bet­ween bet­ween the EU and French actors in the field who will be taking their marks in the various Shift2Rail pro­gramme bet­ween 2014 and 2020. Rai­le­nium is the­re­fore a very stra­te­gic IRT for the inter­na­tio­nal recog­ni­tion and repu­ta­tion of UTC, which ins­ti­tu­tio­nal­ly has eve­ry inter­est to be increa­sin­gly invol­ved in the rail­road sec­tor", adds Moha­med Ali Ham­di, to conclude.

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