|Article by David Thurston, VTS Board of Governors|
The 2019 Joint Rail Conference (JRC) was held at the Snowbird Resort near Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, 9–12 April 2019. This was the 99th year for JRC, making it one of the oldest academic conferences sponsored by VTS.
The centenary edition of JRC will be held where it all started 100 years ago, in St. Louis, Missouri. Plans for this event are already underway. This year the planning was led by the IEEE VTS Board Member David Thurston.
The theme of JRC 2019 is “150 Years of Innovation Continues” to highlight the 150th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike at nearby Promontory, Utah. The Snowbird Ski Resort provided an excellent venue for both learning and winter activities.
Michael Messner, Assistant Director System Program, BNSF Railway outlined the railways use of advanced technology to improve service and availability, in a keynote speech the first day.
Technical sessions began following the keynote in 6 concurrent sessions and continued until Thursday 11 April. The technical program was organized into ten tracks with nearly 100 papers and presentations covering:
Track 1 : Railroad Infrastructure Engineering
The event hosted over 120 attendees from Italy, China, Spain, Brazil, Germany, Sweden, Mexico, and the United States. Most electrical engineering papers were presented in Tracks 3 and 9; but papers of interest to VTS Mobile World readers could be found in other tracks as well.
“Virtual prototyping for the railroad industry” of Track 2 addresses modelling techniques similar to those used in other applications. Two papers in Track 6—“Big Data Analytics for Proactively Optimizing Rolling Stock Maintenance” and “Prototype Rail Crossing Violation Warning (RCVW) – Advancing the Use of Connected Vehicle Technologies To Prevent Crashes at Rail Grade Crossings by Warning Vehicle Drivers of Predicated Violations”—could have been accepted to be presented in Track 3 as well.
The conference included a spectacular banquet at the Summit Restaurant, which was a cable tram ride to the top of the resort at 11,000 feet above sea level. It began with the opening address by General Chair Debakanta Mishra, followed by a keynote speech by Michael “Mike” Wheeler, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Norfolk Southern Corporation.
The next day had a technical tour of the Stadler DMU assembly shop in Salt Lake City, and a seminar titled “Introduction to Rail System Dynamics” presented by Mehdi Ahmadian and Dan Pletta Professor of Mechanical Engineering Director, Railway Technologies Laboratory Center for Vehicle Systems and Safety from Virginia Tech.
JRC 2020 will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, USA to celebrate the 100th anniversary of JRC. The venue will be the former St. Louis Union Station—now a hotel and conference center) —and promises to be an extraordinary event.
For more information please visit the conference website.