Eleventh International Conference on Computer System Design and Operation in the Railway and Other Transit Systems

pcr2.jpg15 - 17 September 2008
Toledo, Spain


comprail08.jpgThe 11th International Conference on Computer System Design and Operation in the Railway and other Transit Systems (COMPRAIL 08) took place recently in Toledo, Spain.

The Conference aims to provide a forum for the discussion of the state of the art in the use of computer-based techniques in railways, promoting general awareness of new developments for engineers, planners, designers, manufacturers and operators.

The Meeting has always been very successful since the first conference took place in Frankfurt (1987), followed by Rome (1990); Washington (1992); Madrid (1994); Berlin (1996); Lisbon (1998); Bologna (2000); Lemnos (2002); Dresden (2004); and Prague (2006).

The Conference was held in a XV Century ex-Dominican convent in Toledo, which is now part of the University of Castilla La-Mancha Campus.  This is a large building in the centre of Toledo, the beautiful architecture of which is representative of that period.  The opening Ceremony was held in the old Church which is richly decorated in line with the wealth of an order associated with the profits brought forward by their inquisitorial duties and their sales of Papel Bulls.

 Opening Address

The first speaker, Da. Maria Angeles Gil Calvo, is Head of Electrical Power Technology in ADIF (Agency for the Development of Railway Information) of Spain.

She said:

"The University Community has been actively developing a science and technology culture, which shares with the society and enhances its ability of innovation and new advances."

"This technology and knowledge transfer is mainly achieved through industry and feed-backs with its cooperation."

"I feel very proud to belong to a company that keeps a long and fruitful collaboration with the University Community and Research Centres, where computation developments are one of the key areas with the highest research effort in the recent years."

comprail4.jpgThe next speaker, Professor Carlos Alberto Brebbia, Director of Wessex Institute, co-organiser of the meeting, referred to the aims of the Wessex Institute of Technology (WIT): the transfer of knowledge between the academic community, science and industry.  The objectives are partly fulfilled by the organisation of many different meetings and conferences which bring together colleagues from all over the world.

As part of their work, WIT has developed a series of links with other institutions, including the University of Castilla La-Mancha (UCLM), with which WIT has a formal agreement.  This Conference, Professor Brebbia said, is part of the work covered by that agreement.  WIT and UCLM have also prepared joint research proposals and other equally important initiatives for the dissemination of knowledge.

Professor Brebbia also referred to the other activities of WIT including book and journal publishing, and services to industry.  The Institute is well known throughout the world for its development of the Boundary Element Method (BEM) and supports a set of computer codes which are now widely used by industry, notably for offshore and aerospace engineering.  WIT is a research and training organisation, which works in a different way to other academic institutes and is open to collaborating with a variety of different partners.

The next speaker was Professor Evangelina Aranda, Vice Rector for International Relations at the University of Castilla La-Mancha.  She mentioned the importance of her institution in terms of numbers of students (30,000) and Professors (2,000) and their commitment to increasing research capabilities.  The University has campuses in five different cities in the region, with Toledo being one of the major, totalling 7,000 students in the different schools, all of which are housed in historical buildings around the city.  The Conference, for instance, took place in the School of Law, Business and Social Sciences, a building covering 30,000m2, and which was an ancient Dominican Convent, now skilfully renovated and adapted to the academic needs of the 21st Century.

Professor Aranda referred to the importance of developing towards a knowledge society through the interaction of research, innovation and training, and this is one of the main objectives of the University of Castilla La-Mancha.

Professor Aranda concluded by thanking the Wessex Institute for choosing Toledo for the Conference, as well as members of the Local Organising Committee who helped to make a success of the event, in particular Professor Enrique Arias, Fernando Cuartero and Encarnacion Bedoya.

 Conference Sessions

The Conference sessions dealt with the following topics:
  • Planning
  • comprail3.jpgCommunications
  • Safety and security
  • Power supply
  • Timetable planning
  • Dynamics and wheel/rail interface
  • Rolling stock
  • Operators quality
  • Training tools and technology
  • Advanced train technology

 Invited Presentations

comprail2.jpgThere were a number of invited lectures by well known colleagues, as follows:
  • “Method and software tool for an optimized passenger oriented connection management”, by A Radtke, University of Hannover, Germany
  • “FASTA: a new life for a former dinosaur adapting the modelling scope to new planning requirements”, by P Tzieropoulos, ENAC, Switzerland
  • “A discrete time Markov chain approach to global risk analysis in railway transportation” by M Sciutto, University of Genova, Italy
  • “Study on the influence of track conditions on dynamic wheel load variation” by A Yoshimura, Tokyo University of Technology, Japan
  • “An incremental decision algorithm for railway traffic optimisation in a complex station” by J Rodriguez, INRETS, France
  • “The multi-agent programming paradigm use for railway applications” by FM Rachel, Sao Paolo Metro, Brazil
  • “Technical development at the 2TRAIN project”, by LM Gutierrez, CITEF, Spain
  • “Multi-objective optimization method for the ATO system using cellular automata” by B Ning, Beijing Jiaotong University, China

 Social Events

The Conference provided numerous occasions for interaction and personal contact in a very friendly atmosphere.  In addition to coffee breaks in one of the historical parts of the convent, the delegates were offered complimentary lunches in part of the old Dominican church.  The University provided a welcoming cocktail at the end of the first day of the Conference and a special banquet was arranged at the end of the meeting.

 International Scientific Advisory Committee

comprail1.jpgThe International Scientific Advisory Committee met over dinner to discuss reconvening the Conference in 2010.  It was felt that the series was proceeding well and that it has continued to evolve since it was first launched in 1987.  New topics have been added over the years and there was agreement regarding the importance of stressing different types of mass transit systems other than classical railways.  A series of new topics were proposed for the 2010 conference and several colleagues were nominated for the Committee.  Discussions about future locations included the possibility of taking the meeting to the Far East or other places outside Europe (the conference has only been held outside Europe on one occasion, in Washington DC in 1992).  This will most probably require an increase in the frequency of the Conference which is currently a bi-annual event.

 Conference Banquet

The conference banquet took place in a building located at the top of a hill in the neighbourhood of Toledo from which the surrounding countryside could be better appreciated.  The banquet consisted of a series of local specialities accompanied by excellent Castillian wines.  A recital, consisting of medieval compositions played on an old instrument, a viola with keys, took place after dinner.  The musician, Ana Alcaide, included some saphardi pieces which reflect the Jewish culture for which Toledo was famous until the end of the XV Century.

 Publication of Papers

The proceedings of Computers in Railways XI: Computer System Design and Operation in the Railway and Other Transit Systems, 896pp (ISBN: 1-84564-126-9) are available in hard back from WIT Press priced at £297/US$594/€445.50. Orders can be placed by telephone: +44 (0) 238 029 3223, fax: +44 (0) 238 029 2853, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the WIT Press web site at www.witpress.com

Papers from the conference will also be hosted online in the WIT eLibrary as volume 103 of WIT Transactions on The Built Environment (ISSN: 1743-3509). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at www.witpress.com