The cover of International Railway Journal for June 2011.
1 June 2011
Calgary Alberta - As a railway whose network crosses countless mountain ranges, flood plains, and avalanche zones, and is headquartered
in Calgary, the eastern gateway to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, CP is well versed with unpredictable weather systems. It is appropriate then that the theme of
the 2011 IHHA Specialist Technical Session at the Heavy Haul Association Conference is "Railroading in Extreme Conditions".
Globally, railways are experimenting with different ways to incorporate technology and operations guidelines to cope with increasingly radical weather systems.
Many of the industry's most influential experts and decision makers will present recent advances in heavy-hail operations research, technology, and best
practice to combat these conditions during the conference.
For example the Nordic Heavy Haul Association has a series of presentations on mitigation strategies and tactics for cold weather operations, while delegates
from Russia and South Africa will provide contrasting experiences with hot and cold weather service reliability.
The technical portion of the conference deals with applied research as it relates to solving key issues in the freight railway industry, including capacity,
service reliability, safety, and lowering unit costs per tonne-kilometre. Year-round fluidity is the key to high performance rail networks and requires a
combination of design to match the load, lowering the stress state, and weatherproofing.
Representatives from North American heavy-haul railways are scheduled to discuss efforts to run longer trains with distributed power, and integrate ECP braking
and new inspection technologies aimed at turning "finders into fixers". Railways from Western Australia will also present their experiences with
longer trains and ultrahigh-axle load operations (40 tonnes).
As a follow-up to their impressive contributions at the last full conference in Shanghai in 2009, the China Academy of Railway Sciences and the
Datong-Qinhuangdao and Shuohuangheavy-haul railways are presenting their latest findings on managing unprecedented line volumes exceeding 340 million gross
tonnes in difficult operating environments.
Other issues that will be explored include:
· what needs to be in place to raise the bar on both train length and axle load;
· are longer and heavier trains the key to unlocking capacity and lowering costs;
· how can we further increase train tonnages reliably and sustainably, and how can we run long, productive trains every day of the year, on
schedule, regardless of weather?
In addition, suppliers, manufacturers, and railways from around the world will provide over 100 presentations and 90 poster sessions encompassing more than 20
different topics during the four-day conference. As well as successfully operating in extreme conditions, other topics that are set to be discussed include:
· freight wagon design, maintenance, and performance;
· infrastructure design, maintenance, and components;
· locomotive reliability, and;
· train control and operational safety.
Specific to the conference's theme are presentations on the impact of extreme temperature on track, metallurgical requirements for harsh weather, successfully
operating railways in desert conditions and winter procedures for track.
A track workshop is also being held before the conference based on IHHA's book "Best Practices for Heavy Haul Railways: Infrastructure Construction
and Maintenance". Co-written by 42 of the field's top experts, this is the most recent authoritative textbook on railway track.
Twelve of the authors will present the material over a two-day workshop for infrastructure engineers and managers looking to top-up their track engineering
In addition, several technical tours have been organised for delegates to CP's Network Management Centre, the pivotal Calgary Alyth Yard, and the Calgary
Intermodal Facility. CP will showcase these facilities and solutions to highlight what is behind its strategy, "driving the digital railway".
Conference participants will also be treated to a post-conference steam train ride from Calgary to Field, B.C., through the Canadian Rockies and the Spiral
Tunnels aboard the Empress 2816, one of the last remaining Hudson B class steam locomotives in North America.
With the long-term outlook for world's railways remaining very strong, demand for freight services will soon eclipse the growth of the gross domestic products.
Railway networks are therefore likely to be at capacity, making heavy-haul research, development, and implementation more imperative than ever.
The 2011 IHHA conference is an excellent opportunity to share and advance thinking on the latest heavy-haul and double-stack technology. The technical papers,
posters, and presentations are sure to provide leading information on the limits of heavy axle loads and the effects on track and equipment to paint a picture
of the freight railway of the future.
The 2011 International Heavy Haul Association conference will be held 19-22 Jun 2011 in Calgary.
Michael Roney - General Manager Technical Standards Canadian Pacific Railway