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Innovative Track Systems

INNOTRACK will perform research on four key topics: track support structure, switches and crossings, rails, and logistics for track maintenance and renewal. It will also provide an innovative methodology for Life Cycle Cost calculation and Reliability Availability Maintainability Safety (RAMS) assessment to be used by all infrastructure managers across Europe.

Tags: Rail


Infrastructure accounts for about 70% of railway systems’ total costs. Rail infrastructure managers spend millions of euros each year on maintaining network infrastructures throughout Europe while the supply industry is investing hundreds of millions in research and development on rail technologies to deliver cost-effective products for rail infrastructure. Any reduction of production and maintenance costs would, therefore, have a significant impact on the overall cost of the provision of rail infrastructure for operators. However, a reduction in the production cost itself at the site of the supply industry has to go hand in hand with a reduction in maintenance and renewal costs for infrastructure managers (IMs). There is a strong need to bring together those responsible for the delivery of railway transportation with those responsible for providing products, services and technologies to this industry, in order to reduce life-cycle costs (LCC), improve reliability, availability, maintainability and safety (RAMS) of infrastructure, while still increasing the service life of infrastructure and overall performance of the rail system. This is the first time when all stakeholders concerned (IMs, industry, associations, academia, etc.) have committed the resources for joint collaborative research aimed at delivering the innovative solutions to achieve the targeted reduction in LCC in the long term.


The EC’s White Paper on Sustainable Transport calls for rail operators to double passenger traffic and triple freight traffic by 2020. The rolling stock industry are responding to the new challenges by continuing to increase speed, acceleration, axle loads, traction power, etc., all of which place greater demands on the track, causing more damage and higher maintenance costs.

The INNOTRACK project is a joint response of the major stakeholders in the rail sector for the development of cost-effective high-performance track infrastructure, aiming at providing innovative solutions towards significant reductions in both investment and maintenance of infrastructure costs. To achieve these objectives, investment alone is not sufficient; significant innovation supported by research is essential. INNOTRACK’s main objective is to reduce the LCC, while improving the RAMS characteristics of a conventional line with a mixed traffic duty. INNOTRACK will provide railway infrastructure managers with crucial information, innovative solutions and technologies to facilitate the understanding and implementation of leading-edge track system technologies, which can effectively contribute to LCC reduction. Manufacturing industry will also benefit through the implementation of appropriate changes to specifications and standards to reduce production costs and time to market, and improve profitability.

Description of work

INNOTRACK will analyse root causes (e.g. failure rates, failure causes) of the current excessive cost of track maintenance and renewal. The analyses will benchmark the problems, the major cost drivers and remedy measures at individual networks and it will then harmonise those which are common across Europe. These will be tackled in four subprojects, dealing with the four major concerns:

  • track support structure
  • switches and crossings
  • rails
  • logistics for track maintenance and renewal.

After drawing together a common European specification regarding RAMS and LCCs, INNOTRACK will ensure that the project results from the separate areas are integrated into an overall, coherent package of measures that will achieve the targeted reduction in LCCs.

The INNOTRACK project will also provide the following, which are all internationally accepted:

  • LCC methodology (fundamental for an economic assessment of technical solutions for European problems)
  • RAMS technology (a recognised management and engineering discipline to guarantee the specified functionality of a product over its complete lifecycle
  • A European cost matrix including national costs due to national standards – relevant for international comparisons of LCCs and for an economic assessment of technical innovation
  • LCC models for track components with different levels of detail – relevant for LCC analysis and economic optimisation.


The major deliverables of INNOTRACK are:

  • a database of representative vehicle types, track segments and the identification of characteristics of generic vehicles and tracks for modelling, innovative design, LCC calculation and RAMS assessment
  • definition of track and wheel irregularities which lead to degradation and failure
  • determination of root causes of problem conditions and priorities for innovation
  • database of models and a list of potential model gaps
  • ‘portancemeter’ for measuring track-structure stiffness on existing tracks
  • validation methodology and criteria for evaluation of sub-grade enhancements and superstructure innovations
  • design and manufacture of BBEST slab track components
  • rail degradation algorithms
  • guidelines on the selection of rail grades
  • ‘minimum action’ rules for selected defect types
  • rail inspection technologies
  • rail grinding strategies, and new and optimised approaches for Europe
  • logistic needs and constraints for track construction, maintenance and renewal
  • validation procedure for track construction sites, maintenance and renewal activities
  • boundary conditions and requirements for LCC and RAMS analysis of railway infrastructure
  • modular LCC/RAMS models
  • dissemination plan – network of industries and infrastructure managers
  • establishment of training platform – coherent training programmes
  • technical review and standardisation platform – proposals for standards.