The ESCUGIBRI project is funded by the European Commission under the 5th Framework Programme GROWTH, DG TREN, Subprogramme Area: 'Key Action Land Transport and Marine Technologies'. The ESC UserGroup is a forum for the exchange and enhancement of the knowledge in the domain of Electrical Systems Compatibility (ESC) of railways. Membership to the ESC UserGroup is open to all organisations and experts active in the field of European railways and electrical systems compatibility: manufacturers of rolling stock, traction power supply, and railway signalling; railway operators; rail infrastructure operators; consultants; research institutes and Universities. UserGroup membership and access to the ESC InfoBank, a relational database accessible via the internet, is granted to interested parties on a 'give and take' basis during the start-up period of two years (07/2001 to 06/2003). During this start-up period, the activities and services of the ESC UserGroup are financed by the European Commission and the Swiss Government. A consortium of 4 contractors organises networking events and maintains and enhances the ESC InfoBank.
The main objectives of the ESC UserGroup project are:
1. To promote and facilitate the use and practical application of results from previous research projects in the field of electrical systems compatibility of railways, in particular all results from ESCARV (Electrical System Compatibility for Advanced Rail Vehicles);
2. To support the efforts of the EU and of the railway industry to achieve railway interoperability in Europe;
3. To enhance and share the knowledge about electrical systems compatibility among all players in the railway community, with the aim to improve safety and operational reliability, and to reduce time and cost for the acceptance of new vehicles on existing railway systems.
The project contains two core elements:
1. The ESC UserGroup: a network of experts from railways, infrastructure owners, safety authorities, manufacturers, engineering and consultancy firms, and from universities and industrial research institutes.
2. The ESC InfoBank: an information management tool, implemented as relational database to be accessed via Internet by the registered members of the UserGroup.
A consortium of four partners is responsible for the InfoBank and for networking activities and events, such as a yearly workshop for all members. The consortium partners are Bombardier Transportation (Sweden), AEIF (the Association for Railway Interoperability in Europe), CIRT (the transport research institute of the University of Genoa, Italy), and ENOTRAC AG. In the consortium, ENOTRAC is in charge of the maintenance and further development of the ESC InfoBank and of the project web site. This includes the entry of information collected by the other consortium partners and by subcontractors. The aim is to collect all interference requirements and the power supply characteristics of the main railways in Europe. The members of the UserGroup are expected to contribute case histories or other valuable information from their own background for entry into the InfoBank as a 'membership fee'.
In the first half of the project, a workshop in Paris has attracted more than 80 experts from all over Europe. So far, accounts for access to the ESC InfoBank have been opened for more than 120 users. The InfoBank tool and the Web site are fully operational. See http://www.esc-usergroup.org and http://www.esc-infobank.com.
The ESC UserGroup project was participating with an exhibition stand at the EC research conference in Valencia in June 2002. At the same conference, ENOTRAC was invited by the EC to chair a conference session dedicated to electrical systems compatibility of railways.
General implications :
The problem of defining ESC interfaces and requirements between owners, operators and suppliers still exists today. The ESC UserGroup project has been a focal point to tackle this over the last 2½ years and has provided tools and information to aid all members facing the issue. The risk is now that without future funding and a patron both of these instruments will vanish. The reality seems to be that either a strategic organisation needs to take the lead and operate these instruments for the benefit of all railway organisations or alternatively each individual railway organisation needs to have readily accessible there own internal database of ESC information which can be easily shared with to other railway organisations.
The benefit of the top down strategy is that ESC has a clear focus, strategy and lines of communication for the benefit of all industry players. The second option allows for closer information management and updating to be performing thus assuring the accuracy and ownership of the different database contents but lacks leadership and coordination with the potential loss of any synergies. Although no new backer has stepped up to lead this work there is a strong amount of interest industry wide that this lack of clear ESC requirements and interfaces is resolved. Although support in hard financial terms and resources has not readily come forward, vocal support and expressions of interest have been numerous from all segments of the industry. It is clear therefore that this issue requires further attention in the short to medium term future and a strategic industry leader needs to position itself in such a way as to cover this.
Policy implication for each theme :
Exchange and enhancement of the knowledge in the domain of Electrical Systems Compatibility (ESC) of railways.
Safety and security
To enhance and share the knowledge about electrical systems compatibility among all players in the railway community, with the aim to improve safety and operational reliability, and to reduce time and cost for the acceptance of new vehicles on existing railway systems.
To support the efforts of the EU and of the railway industry to achieve railway interoperability in Europe.