Registration for Railway Forum open

Registration for Railway Forum open




  • next steps of optimization of ECTS, optimization of radio communication
  • Interoperability throughout different countries
  • night trains, train operation
  • how to meet the expectation for sustainability
  • solutions to increase capacity:
    • build new lines
    • add a second track
    • double decker trains
    • improve signalling systems
    • Night trains

We invite you to participate in the RAILWAY FORUM 2024 which is organized by the Union of European Railway Engineer Associations (UEEIV) in cooperation with our Bulgarian Member Associations, the Scientific and Technical Union for Transport (WTVV) and the National Guild Society of Railway Track Engineers (NGSRTE).

We have deliberately chosen Sofia as a location to widen our horizon and improve international networking.

The topic is very relevant on a European level: The future of Railway Interoperability.

Working together on commons solutions for all European countries will be the key to meet the young generations wish for sustainable travel throughout Europe and there is still a long way to go.

As modern Railway engineers we have a great responsibility to make the expansion of the route network and interoperability possible with our technical innovations and solutions.

In the UEEIV, we have accepted this challenge and made it our goal to move a step forward at the Railway Forum 2024.

We will give you an overview of what has been done so far in the past decades to improve the interoperability and what future strategies may be.

You are invited you to take part in this task and present your experiences, views and innovative strategies at the Railway Forum 2024.

We are looking forward to your participation!

Southeastern European countries in the focus of the rail industry

Southeastern European countries in the focus of the rail industry

Traditionally, Europe’s rail industry generates a large proportion of its sales in the “old” member states of the European Union. But recently the industry’s interest has also shifted more and more towards southeastern European countries, including those outside the EU.

Marie Vopálenská is CEO of ACRI, the umbrella association of Czech railway industry companies. “They employ 22,000 people and together contribute one and a half percent to the Czech Republic’s GDP,” Vopálenská explained at an association conference in February of this year. “The industry has grown steadily in recent years. Last year it was around seven percent compared to the previous year. The most important partners for them are the countries of the European Union, but also Serbia, Turkey and India.”


 The rail vehicle manufacturer Škoda is also part of ACRI. It will supply trolleybuses for Vilnius, Lithuania, and metro trains for Sofia, Bulgaria, among others. The trains are to enter service in 2026 and will run on lines 1, 2 and 4. They are similar to those to Warsaw, but will be equipped with air condition. From a systems perspective, the trains will feature a safety system with automatic speed control. It regulates the speed of traffic and prevents other trains from catching up. Each of the eight trains will be powered by traction three-phase asynchronous motors with regenerative braking – allowing power to be returned back to the grid.

The Sofia metro operates on standard-gauge 1435mm tracks and is powered via third rail. The power supply is direct current and the nominal voltage is 750 ± 250V. The trains have a design speed of 90km/h. Škoda has been present in the Bulgarian transport market since 2010, delivering 210 trolleybuses to five Bulgarian cities.

The AŽD company is a major supplier of technology units in the field of transport infrastructure. Among the most important activities implemented in 2023 was the construction of ETCS on several sections in the Czech Republic. The General Director of AŽD Prague Zdeněk Chrdle explains: “Abroad, we are waiting for a project to modernise the line in Hungary, including the installation of an intelligent digital system DIGITAL 4.0 on the Soroksár – Kelebia section.”

The Polish railway manufacturer PESA is also betting heavily on Southeast Europe. Until now, the Bydgoszcz-based company was known on the Romanian market primarily for its trams, having delivered 37 trams for Cluj, Iași and Craiova between 2012 and 2023. Now, as some observers put it, a “legal war” has broken out between PESA and the French producer Alstom. Two tenders by the Romanian Railway Reform Authority (ARF) for the purchase of Inter-Regio electric trains aroused interest.

On May 31, 2024, the Romanian media service reported that the ARF had “completed the process of re-evaluating the offer submitted by the Polish PESA” for the state-owned operator CFR. PESA won the case, “and in the end the company from Poland was declared the winner.” Thus, CFR will receive 20 electric multiple units for the Bucharest, Iași and Cluj regions, with the possibility of adding nine more sets of the same type. According to the procurement contract, CFR will receive the electrical equipment no later than two years after the agreement between PESA and the railway authority is signed. The electric sets have a capacity of 191 seats.

At the same time, the railway authority can apply for an additional electric train sets with 9 additional railcars and a maintenance period of 30 years. The Polish manufacturer will also offer the buyer CFR employee training on how to handle hardware and software devices. The contract volume is stated to be 223.8 million euros. Of this, 167.97 million euros are for the vehicles and 55.83 million euros for maintenance services. The new trains are based on trains for the Czech railway company Regio-Jet and will offer, among other things, air conditioning, WiFi connection, bar/bistro, rooms for people with disabilities, ticket vending machines and validators. They run on the 25 kV traction network and are equipped with the Romanian safety system PZB 90 and the European ETCS.


But the ARF had also put out a tender for the purchase of a further 62 such trains. The source of financing is non-reimbursable European funds under the 2021-2027 Transport Programme. The entire project will be divided into three phases, after which the first 20 trains will run on the Bucharest North – Ploiesti South – Adjud, Iasi – Pașcani – Suceava, Bacău – Pașcani routes. Another 23 will then run on the Brasov – Gheorgheni, Arad – Timișoara – Caransebeș and Huedin – Cluj – Bistrița routes. As part of the final phase, electric trains will be introduced on the Bucharest North – Ploiesti West – Brasov, Bucharest North – Roșiori, Bucharest North – Bucharest Obor/Fundulea and Constanța – Fetesti routes.

Initially, eight companies competed for the contract. Alstom was excluded for violating the tender conditions. The contract was awarded to PESA and also signed by the purchaser. Two legal appeals by Alstom were rejected by the relevant Romanian courts. In response to a third appeal, the Court of Appeal ruled on 8 April that PESA should provide more detailed information on the maintenance costs for the trains, calculated over 15 years. PESA did so, but a final decision has not yet been announced. This means that this contract is blocked for the time being. This is negative for Romania – the trains, regardless of who is delivering them, will arrive later than expected and, in the worst case, EU funding could expire.

This situation has greatly angered Romanian Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu. The media service quoted the minister on June 4, following Agerpress. At Bucharest’s North Railway Station, he explained that the French manufacturer Alstom currently has to pay fines of around 18 million euros for delays in the delivery of the trains it has ordered and around 22 to 23 million euros for the metro trains that were actually supposed to run on the M5 – Magistrala 5 – line. The minister is then quoted verbatim: “It is good to stick to the terms of the contract or, if you cannot, leave it to others.” Anyone who “continues to delay and postpone the delivery of certain train sets” must know: “The penalties are flowing and will flow, and in a continual manner.”

In the digi24 information service, Grindeanu was even clearer: “They only work through CNSCs and appeal courts, but if you have an official contract, they do not deliver trains. They also face penalties. It is their right, I do not want to be misunderstood, but should we not start delivering what we already had in the contracts? Not that they are not coming, but they are coming too late. We keep getting explanations: the war in Ukraine, the supply lines have changed… Otherwise, there is another option. You come too late, I will cancel the contract, I will put you on the blacklist, and you will never deliver to Romania again for many years. I do not want that and have never been a fan of it. If we terminate the contract, we will start over with others, which means lost years.”

There was some movement on Alstom’s part when it won a tender for long-distance trains. “The second of a total of 37 Alstom Coradia Stream trains that will operate in Romania arrived in Romania at the Episcopia Bihor border point on May 31” and was immediately transferred to the test center in Făurei for several dynamic tests, reported the information service on June 4, 2024. The train came from the Czech Republic, from Velim, where it underwent further tests with a view to certification. If all goes well, the train will run with passengers on the Brașov – Bucharest – Constanța route from the end of the year. A third train is currently being tested in Germany – from electrical and electronic systems to braking and drive systems, railway dynamics for train stability, but also aspects of passenger comfort.

by Hermann Schmidtendorf

Foto copyright info: from left to right

An ALSTOM Coradia Stream EMU for Romania. Credits: Alstom

This is how the Škoda metro trains for Sofia will look like. Credits: Škoda Group

A Polish PESA EMU for Romania. Credits: PESA

PORR Slab Track Austria implemented in Romania – new oPORRtunities for ballastless track technology in the context of enabling interoperability of trans-European railway network

PORR Slab Track Austria implemented in Romania – new oPORRtunities for ballastless track technology in the context of enabling interoperability of trans-European railway network




In June 2024 PORR has successfully completed the modernization of one of the most important railway sections connecting the capital Bucharest to the Bulgarian border, passing also through a major Danube harbour city-Giurgiu.

The North Bucharest – Jilava – North Giurgiu – North Giurgiu – North Giurgiu Border railway line is part of the TEN-T central network and has been identified as a conventional railway line in need of modernization. The Bucharest North – Giurgiu North railway line is the first railway line established in Romania and is located on the Pan-European Corridor IX route (Helsinki – Vyborg – St. Petersburg – Pskov – Gomei – Kiev – Ljubashevka – Chisinau – Bucharest – Dimitrovgrad – Alexandropoulis), part of the AGC, AGTC and T.E.R. networks.

Within this project, PORR Slab Track Austria technology has been successfully implemented on the new built bridge over the Arges river, on 1,393 m of track. Also noted as a premiere is implementation of rail expansion device on dedicated, precast reinforced concrete slabs.

One of the most dynamic contexts of our days is the compliance with the set of common technical and safety rules that lead to overcoming system differences, and promote interoperability in the European rail network.

“©PORR” top view of slab track installation in progress.jpg



For the national railway network of Romania it was the first project implementing a certified ballastless track system, so fulfillment of structural compatibility within the project together with compliance with interoperability criteria were challenges to overcome.

From the technical point of view, the structural compatibility of the infrastructure subsystem was proved in design stage by a track-structure interaction report; at the connection between ballastless track and conventional track the vertical deflections and settlements of the ballasted track were limited to minimum by using different fastening system stiffness, a load distribution slab (LDS) and different compaction degree of the soil material underneath LDS; the expansion of the structure was covered by using a rail expansion device mounted on PORR special precast reinforced concrete slabs.

In order to prove compliance with the interoperability criteria, an EC certificate of verification has been achieved during the design phase, thus proving compliance with the relevant TSI requirements-INF(EU) 1299/2014 as amended by (EU) 2019/776.

The implementation of the first ballastless system on the project in Romania has been successfully accomplished showing some particular relevant advantages:

  • superior performance and track longevity in operations
  • reduced execution time
  • accurate installation with less labour
  • weather-independent system
  • lower track geometry
  • lower maintenance requirements.

Since the 1980s when PORR initially took up the challenge of new technologies for ballastless track systems, we have continued investigating, researching, developing, testing and implementing engineering solutions. After more than 35 years of proven records of slab track in operation, we continue this challenging work with new projects and new contexts.

For more information please see:

PORR Slab Track Austria product video 

By Alice Sofian

About the Author:

Alice Sofian is a civil engineer with over 20 years of experience working on international infrastructure projects, with a focus on quality management, project management and business development for high speed, metro and rehabilitation slab track projects.



VDEI parliamentary evening discussing rising demand for skilled workers and railway engineers

VDEI parliamentary evening discussing rising demand for skilled workers and railway engineers

VDEI Vice President Dr. Jürgen Murach
VDEI President Prof. Dr. Birgit Milius with VDEI Vice President Dr.Ing. Joachim Warlitz (right)
VDEI Parliamentary Evening

German Association VDEI: 75 years of concentrated railway engineering expertise

The beginning was hearty: The founding of the Association of German Railway Engineers VDEI on December 10, 1949 took place in the station pub of Hamm station in Westphalia. The railway engineers in the GDR had their engineering home in the “Chamber of Technology of the GDR”. With the collapse of the East German state, the VDEI Dresden district was founded on April 20, 1990 in Plauen and then the VDEI-DDR on May 14, 1990 in Dresden. On October 12, 1990, this association merged with the previously West German VDEI to form a joint association.

Today, the VDEI is the professional association for engineers in Germany who work in the field of rail-guided transport – an organisation for around 4,000 members of all ages and professional hierarchies from different areas such as business, authorities, engineering offices or universities. The VDEI is organised in 15 districts and 13 specialist committees from four specialist areas, in working groups and networks. There is the Young Railway Network working group for engineers under 35 and a women’s network. Since 2010, the VDEI Academy for Railway Systems has been providing professional training and further education for engineers across the entire spectrum of rail-guided transport with a wide range of specialist conferences, seminars and workshops.

The aim of the VDEI is to promote members in professional policy matters and further training, to strengthen and expand rail transport for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility. To this end, there are continuous contacts with politics, administration, business, research and education. The VDEI is the national certification office for European railway engineers (EURAIL-ING) and the organiser of the “iaf International Exhibition of Track Technology” and the “iaf Congress on Railway Construction”. It publishes the monthly trade magazine “EI – The Railway Engineer” (Eisenbahn-Ingenieur) and other specialist publications. The VDEI is a member of the European umbrella organization UEEIV and the Central Association of Engineering Associations e.V. (ZBI), which as an umbrella organisation with over 40,000 members is one of the largest engineering associations in Germany.

Railway without railway engineers?

Despite the high demand for skilled workers in the industry, railway professorships in Germany have recently not been filled or only with difficulty. But can there be a transport turnaround necessary for climate protection without transport engineers? This topic is of concern to the VDEI for current reasons. In an article for the specialist journal “Der Eisenbahn-Ingenieur”, VDEI President Prof. Dr. Birgit Milius, herself head of the Department of Railway Operations and Infrastructure at the Technical University (TU) Berlin, reported: “In recent years, numerous professorships have only been able to be retained, if at all, after great commitment from the entire railway industry and politics. The hurdles to refilling were great: They range from efforts not to start the filling process at all, to changing the denomination of the professorship, to rejecting the proposal on the appointment list. The current case is the discontinuation of the refill process at the TU Braunschweig. After the first process failed, the second process has now also been stopped by the University Council of the TU Braunschweig.”

In order to discuss this problem publicly, the VDEI organised a first parliamentary evening in Berlin on April 9, 2024. The audience included university employees, students, members of the Bundestag, as well as representatives of Deutsche Bahn AG, the railway industry and associations. The Chancellor of the TU Berlin, Lars Oeverdieck, explained why the university subject of railway engineering often has difficulty finding the necessary support. Important criteria for assessing a department include the number of students, but also how much government third-party funding the department can attract and how much space and equipment it needs. Measured by such aspects, railway engineering is considered a “small” subject at German universities and has a hard time asserting itself. In a panel discussion, the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport, Michael Theurer, also commented on the obvious contradiction that arises from the social demands for a transport turnaround and the low funding of universities. Theurer said: “There must be more exciting paths that go beyond the prevailing templates.”

There are currently only a few courses in Germany that allow students to focus on core topics of railway engineering. In Germany, there are 34 railway professorships at a total of 15 university and technical college locations. They are the backbone of the training of new engineers in this field. The VDEI will continue the dialogue. Studying railway engineering is highly relevant to practice and interdisciplinarity, and graduates have the best chances on the job market. These are good reasons to attract more people to study railways and thus increase the importance of the subject at universities.

Hermann Schmidtendorf, VDEI News

Fotos from left to right:

VDEI Vice President Dr. Jürgen Murach on a study trip with an ÖBB Regiojet. Credits Hermann Schmidtendorf

VDEI President Prof. Dr. Birgit Milius with VDEI Vice President Dr.Ing. Joachim Warlitz (right) and the Mayor of Chemnitz Sven Schulze at a VDEI event in his city. Credits Hermann Schmidtendorf

Discussion during the VDEI Parliamentary Evening: 1st from left Lars Oeverdieck, 2nd from left Prof. Milius, 5th from left Michael Theurer. Credits Dima Eisenberger/VDEI

Plasser & Theurer – fit for the future with intelligent tamping machines

Plasser & Theurer – fit for the future with intelligent tamping machines

Plasser & Theurer has had a symbiotic relationship with the rail for 70 years. As a family-run company, it is driven by the desire to achieve sustainable, long-term success alongside the railway.

In the early 1950s, Plasser & Theurer recognized that the mechanization of track work would be a decisive factor in the development of the railway system. With the invention of hydraulic tamping machines, the company developed a tamping technology that was able to withstand the enormous loads of the railway infrastructure in the long term. Numerous innovations from Plasser & Theurer are now standard in track maintenance; in the field of tamping technology alone, the company holds 936 patents, totalling 2,500 active patents.

Plasser & Theurer supplies infrastructure managers and track maintenance companies in 110 countries and has manufactured 17,800 track maintenance machines since 1953. The largest sales markets include Germany, the USA, India, the UK, and Japan. The company has around 2,200 employees in Austria and around 6,000 employees worldwide. The export ratio is 93%.

Today, Plasser & Theurer is emphasizing its aim to provide decisive support in future-proofing the railway system through digitalization and greening of the infrastructure. To compensate for the shortage of skilled labour in track maintenance, the use of AI is particularly important. Intelligent tamping machines work with a virtual AI pro on board. Its name: Plasser Tamping Assistant. It creates recommendations for action that only need to be confirmed prior to execution. The working units position themselves automatically to secure the track in the perfect position. The digital assistant makes operation less complex, increases working speed, and ensures consistently high quality. The system continues to learn every time it is used and supports both newcomers and experienced track maintenance professionals.​

Find out more here:



Registration for Railway Forum open

Call for abstracts: Railway Forum Sofia, 8-9 November

We invite you to submit your abstracts for the RAILWAY FORUM 2024 in Sofia:



Dates: 8 – 9 November 2024

Location: Sofia, Bulgaria


Please submit your papers to the following Topics:


  • next steps of optimization of ECTS, optimization of radio communication
  • Interoperability throughout different countries
  • night trains, train operation
  • how to meet the expectation for sustainability
  • solutions to increase capacity:
    • build new lines
    • add a second track
    • double decker trains
    • improve signalling systems
    • Night trains

    Union of European Railway Engineer Associations (UEEIV)
    Scientific and Technical Union for Transport (WTVV)
    National Guild Society of Railway Track Engineers (NGSRTE)

    We are looking forward to interesting and captivating presentations.