The INFRAGUIDER was a Coordinated Action project. It was established with inspiration from the results of RAVEL and REPID (BRITE/EURAM projects) and PROSPER (a UIC project), and especially the Leaflet 'Environmental specification for new rolling-stock'.
INFRAGUIDER set ou to provide a European answer to urgent environmental challenges: climate change, hazardous substances and resources management.
The INFRAGUIDER Coordinated Action project's primary objective was to define the guidelines for developing an effective European method/tool for the environmental impact evaluation of the railway infrastructure (existing and new). Despite the fact that a similar process has already been provided for the rolling stock, the railway infrastructure is a more complex system where a silent revolution has been performed in order to:
- face high performances of trains (high speed trains);
- attract freight transport;
- reduce maintenance and operational costs, and;
- comply with the local, regional regulation in terms of environmental impact.
To avoid that, this revolution will create a great unbalance among regions. To support the know-how and best practices transfer, it is important to assess by a consensus process at European level the following items:
- the current state of environmental performance within the railway sector, and to highlight the criticalities to become effective and practical for the internal Environmental Management system implemented by railway companies and suppliers;
- the infrastructure functional subsystems and interfaces from the environment point of view;
- balance of goods in terms of material flow, environmental performance indicators EPIs and relevant ranking.
Finally, as result of the three steps mentioned above, the specification for the environmental part of a sustainability management system was provided and disseminated to end users (railway infrastructure managers and international organisations), to suppliers and academia (through EURNEX poles of excellence). According to this description, INFRAGUIDER was delivered in four main work packages. Additional work packages related to the management and communication/dissemination of the project are included in order to guarantee and to monitor the quality and effectiveness of the coordination mechanism.
An analytical assessment of the environmental management of railway infrastructure managers was performed. Within these organisations there are in particular five key functions where environmental performance can be controlled. Material flow analysis has been combined with life cycle assessments according to the international standards ISO 14040-44, to quantify the environmental performance of railway infrastructure eco-procurement. The results comprise of:
- A collection/overview of tools and methods that are in use and/or available for the environmental impact evaluation.
- Development of a systems models, describing how different infrastructure managers have implemented environmental management processes, related to the functions described by the ISO 14001 environmental management system.
- Development of material flow models that describe how the major materials and substances are entering the railway infrastructure and leaving as waste or as emissions to air, ground and water.
- Development of a material and component database collecting the data obtained by the INFRAGUIDER infrastructure managers.
The gathered information provided a clear understanding of the environmental framework of the railway infrastructure. This initiated a constructive process, resulting in a compilation of tools to assess and manage the environmental performance of materials and components.
The overall result is a combined view of railway infrastructure material flows, railway infrastructure management and railway infrastructure material procurement. This provides clear guidance towards improved environmental performance, both on a global climate scale and on the local and regional scale, including waste minimisation and reduction of toxic substances.
The added value of the project is the exploration of the not yet exploited potential of railway network assets renewal and planning to positively affect the environmental performance of the infrastructure managers.
The consortium was composed of different stakeholders, infrastructure managers, suppliers and academia. This reflects the knowledge from both inside and outside the railway companies.
Innovating for the future (behaviour and technology): Promoting more sustainable development