Advance registration is open until Friday, 13 August for the 23rd annual Railroad Environmental Conference (RREC). This year the conference will be presented in a hybrid format, meaning that participants can chose between in-person or online attendance. This will provide attendees the best of both worlds – being able to see each other in-person, while also providing quality presentations online to those who are unable to join us in Champaign, IL.
In other exciting news, RREC will be held at a new venue this year. The iHotel and Conference Center, located on the south side of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, has more capacity than the Illini Union and free parking. The iHotel has also successfully hosted conferences under Illinois COVID-19 restrictions over the past year. While the state of Illinois moved to Phase 5: Illinois Restored (no restrictions) on Friday, 11 June, this greater capacity and experience will reduce the potential impact on the in-person aspect of RREC if certain restrictions have been reinstated by October.
Come listen to over 60 presentations at this annual conference that enables you to meet with your peers throughout the railroad environmental community to exchange views, learn about new techniques and technologies, and generally stay in touch with the direction of the railroad industry’s environmental programs.
Chris Barkan, Professor and George Krambles Director of RailTEC, was a guest speaker on Good Day Chicago on Wednesday morning, 09 June discussing the establishment of the Illinois High-Speed Rail Commission. The Illinois Legislature recently passed bill HB 0399 that created the Commission to develop a statewide plan for a very high speed rail (HSR) line connecting St. Louis and Chicago. The HSR line would also link with Amtrak and Metra services connecting the cities of Rockford, Moline, Peoria, and Decatur, and integrate inter-city bus services as well. The Commission will conduct a ridership study and make findings and recommendations concerning a governance structure, the frequency of service, and implementation of the plan.
The High Speed Rail Alliance, which has been promoting HB 0399 for several years, prepared a media release that included a quote from Professor Barkan. “This legislation is an essential step toward development of a safe, efficient, and environmentally sustainable 21st-century transportation system for Illinois. Such a system will fundamentally transform Illinois citizens’ mobility and bolster the state’s economy. It will also transform our higher education system by enabling fast, convenient travel between the three University of Illinois campuses. Beyond the educational benefits, this will also support the objectives of the University’s Design Partners Institute https://dpi.uillinois.edu. I hope the Commission will soon get underway and quickly complete their efforts so the real work of planning, design and construction can begin.”
Click here to read the entire Midwest HSR Alliance media release.
Hurry now before registration closes to sign up for one or both of our virtual one-week railway engineering short courses. Registration closes on Friday, 02 July 2021. Click here to enroll. Week One focuses on Track Engineering Fundamentals while Week Two focuses on Railroad Project Design. Both courses will be held in July 2021 and each course will run virtually on Monday – Thursday for four hours each day. Participants earn 14 professional development hours. Past attendees include rail professionals, engineers, planners, consultants and more from employees throughout the rail industry. For more information, click here to go to the Railway Engineering Short Course website.
Track Engineering Fundamentals
12-15 July 2021 | Noon-4pm CDT Lead Instructor: Conrad Ruppert
The course focuses on three general topic areas (track structure design, track geometry/project design and train resistance/motive power/rolling stock). Attendees with a stronger background in one area can still learn about other aspects of railway engineering and the interrelationships between them. In gaining a greater appreciation for the holistic view of rail transport as a system, attendees can make better engineering decisions in the future. The short course is an excellent networking opportunity to meet others engaged in various facets of the rail industry.
We are excited to announce that the 2021 International Crosstie & Fastening System Symposium is now available. Over 1,300 people have already registered to attend this virtual event which provides free of charge more than 25 pre-recorded presentations. Recordings of technical presentations will be released by topic area over a 5-week period for viewing throughout the remainder of 2021. Click here to see the program and to visit our webpage for additional information.
Chris Barkan, Professor and George Krambles Director of RailTEC, was recently quoted in an article published by Time, an American news magazine. The article takes a look at President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan and Barkan’s quote, about halfway through the article, discusses the idea of running more passenger trains on existing freight lines. In addition to providing a quote for the article, Barkan helped the reporter track down information and corrected several inaccuracies in the original version. Click here to read the entire article.
The Illinois Distributed Museum, a project under the direction of the University of Illinois Archives, recently focused on the fact that the University’s has had ties to rail since the early 1900’s and the beginning of the university. The article highlights three scholars from early university history: Arthur Talbot, Gennette Killbury, and Herbert Moore. It was written by Kristen Wilson, Distributed Museum Coordinator, and published in the The News-Gazette on April 25, 2021. Click here to read the article.
The Illinois Distributed Museum seeks to show the innovations that have occurred at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. The museum highlights the work that staff, faculty and students have completed at Illinois and is meant to share these stories with the campus and community.
RailTEC Principal Research Engineer, Marcus S. Dersch, P.E., was highlighted in the “Getting to know” section of the April 2021 issue of Railway Track & Structures (RT&S) magazine. Marcus recently assumed the position of Chair of AREMA Committee 30 – Ties. Click here to read the RT&S article.
The 2021 International Crosstie & Fastening System Symposium will be held virtually this summer. The program will include more than 25 pre-recorded presentations that will be provided free of charge to registered attendees. Recordings of technical presentations will be released by topic area over a 5-week period for viewing throughout the remainder of 2021. Visit our webpage for additional information.
The University of Illinois’ renown Engineering Open House (EOH) is virtual this year. This free event is being held today and tomorrow, March 26 – 27, and will be showcasing 100 exhibits representing every department in The Grainger College of Engineering. The public is invited to participate by watching live events and exploring on-demand exhibits and competitions that showcase the talent and ingenuity of Illinois students.
Click here to access the EOH schedule and here to view the exhibits.
The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-Of-Way Association (AREMA) Student Chapter is one of nine exhibits available within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in Newmark Lab. Geordie Roscoe, chapter president, gives a demonstration on a railroad block signal system and explains its role in safe train operations. The electrical design matches that of the first fail-safe designs. Click here to watch the video or here for more information.
Despite the challenges of teaching online during a pandemic RailTEC instructors Riley Edwards and Tyler Dick were ranked as excellent by the students in their fall 2020 courses. The ratings are determined each semester by students completing the Instructor and Course Evaluation (ICES) questionnaire form. Riley taught CEE 409 – Railroad Track Engineering and Tyler taught CEE 598 RTD – Railway Terminal Design and Operations. CEE 598 RTD was recently approved and now is a permanent course known as CEE 511. Click here to see a listing of UI instructors who earned the distinction to be included on this list.
CEE 409 – Railway Track Engineering
Railroad track is the backbone of a railway network and a key element of the vehicle-track system. Its primary functions are to support and distribute train loads, guide rail vehicles and facilitate drainage. The safe and efficient movement of trains requires that track is properly designed, constructed, inspected and maintained. The objectives of this course are to provide the student with a fundamental understanding of basic railroad track engineering principles, concepts, practices and technologies. The course also includes the development of a comprehensive track design project in a team setting. Finally, a field trip is planned to observe railroad track and engage in “hands-on” track construction and maintenance activities.
CEE 511 – Railway Terminal Design and Operations
In this course, students learn details of the design, operations planning, management and optimization of the terminal facilities required for the railway network to function as an efficient freight transportation system. Focus is on design of classification yards, intermodal facilities and bulk terminals, and how these facilities are organized into a network to provide different types of freight transportation service. Course includes a classification yard semester design project and field trip to observe a railway terminal facility.