WDF 2019: Identifying trends – shaping the future
100% availability, fully automated shunting, artificial intelligence in traffic management: what sounds like dreams of the future has already entered the stage of the railway world – for example at WDF 2019, these and other ideas were discussed in concrete terms.
More than 260 visitors from 40 nations represented 101 companies and institutions from the railway industry at this year’s WDF. Exciting inputs were given not only during the 21 lectures but also in between. Operators, system integrators, technical experts and decision-makers got in touch in an informal atmosphere. Together, they let their thoughts and ideas regarding “Intelligent tracking solutions” run wild.
Open exchange paves the way into the future
Christian Pucher, Programme and Content Director and initiator of the WDF, says: “Initially, this event formed a platform for discussing solutions that work exclusively with axle counters and wheel detection systems. This focus is too short-sighted to meet current requirements. New technologies and approaches open up completely new possibilities. We have to discuss these together. Thereby, we can identify potentials and find out, what role proven solutions can play and what path the industry is taking as a whole. The lectures we heard this year dealt with visionary concepts, current research results and innovative practical applications. This mix of topics provided for productive discussions and stimulated the visitors to an intensive exchange of opinions.”
The event started on Wednesday, 5 June, at 15:00. Even before the start of the conference, numerous participants met in the lobby of the Radisson Blu Park Royal Palace. There they got into conversation with existing and new contacts.
At 16:30, the lecture series of the WDF 2019 started with three brilliant keynotes. TC Chew, Director and Global Rail Leader of Arup, took a look into the future with his lecture “Future Rail 2050”. Marco Gercke, Director Cybercrime Research Institute, then gave insights into his knowledge of how artificial intelligence will change the rail industry. He illustrated this outlook with practical examples – whereby he created exciting pictures in the minds of the audience even without any slides.
Finally, Dirk Ahlborn, CEO Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, took the audience into the world of Hyperloop. With his inspiring lecture "Building the Hyperloop" he presented concepts for the implementation of this ambitious future model. The first WDF day ended with a relaxed get-together in the lobby of the event hotel.
Inputs, exchange, networking
Thursday started with the scent of fresh coffee, tea and the tangible anticipation of further exciting inputs in four streams:
- Train localisation
- Maximising efficiency – managing traffic
- Freight transport 4.0
- Digitalisation, trends and innovations
- Concrete application examples were shared in the stream “Train localisation”: From the possibilities of using GPS in tunnels, to the architecture and performance of multisensor solutions and to the evaluation of a fully train-borne localisation algorithm.
The topic “Maximising efficiency – managing traffic” was discussed on the basis of new technological possibilities. With regard to train detection, approaches based on fibre optic sensing were dealt with intensively. The importance of specifically developed system landscapes for availability were also thematised.
Using the Internet of Things in the railway industry, enabling fully automated shunting based on active communication between trains, infrastructure and personnel as well as approaches to automated train recognition: The stream “Freight transport 4.0” made the progress of digitalisation in the railway industry tangible by means of concrete examples.
Under the title “Digitalisation, Trends and Innovations”, Cyber Security in train control and signalling technology was discussed in Thursday’s last panel. The discussion on the use of georeferenced infrastructure data concluded with an insight into practical aspects of current trends.
On top of these fascinating presentations, Thursday offered a special opportunity for further exchanges of ideas and experiences. Right after the last lecture, the visitors of the WDF made their way to the Orangery of Schönbrunn Palace. In a relaxed atmosphere, the second day of the event ended with a gala dinner and pleasant conversations.
From theory to practice
Friday was dedicated to the practical aspects of sustainable technologies: Two panels discussed innovative solutions for track vacancy detection and projects, in which Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) is used for train tracking. Max Schubert, Head of System Architecture and IT Security, DB Netz AG, closed WDF 2019 with a presentation.
He also emphasised on the importance of an open exchange - „WDF is the event to meet experts and managers from the globe to discuss about fibre optic sensing, axle counting and of course every topic that is related to that, such as safe train tracking, asset condition monitoring or security on the track. The atmosphere here is tremendous – I mean, there are people from all over the world and they are willing to share their thoughts and experiences. This is what creates new ideas in my head and in the whole area of the railway world – WDF creates and develops these ideas!”