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Tuesday 11 September 2012, by Maguelonne de Cossart

With the growth of the economy, the volume of transport is growing too. These important constructions obviously bring more pollution, more accidents, and more costs. In this context, the aim of eco-procurement activity is to reduce unnecessary routine travel and to develop the most eco-friendly modes, and railway is part of the solution.

UIC activities

UIC published the leaflet 345 ‘Environmental Specifications for new rolling stock’ that defines environmental specifications recommended to use in the tendering process (energy efficiency, noise, diesel exhaust emissions, recycling etc.)

At the beginning of 2007 a survey among UIC members has been undertaken in order to learn more about the members’ further needs in the field of eco-procurement and their practical experiences with the UIC Leaflet 345 (‘Environmental Specifications for new rolling stock’). The feedback from members showed that several members were already using or planning to use the Leaflet. In line with the results of this survey the dialogue between UIC and UNIFE (Union of European Railway Industries) regarding eco-procurement has been intensified in 2007 and 2008.

Some projects respond to the eco-procurement needs.

PROSPER project

The main outcome of the project is the UIC leaflet “Environmental Specifications for new Rolling Stock”, which will contribute to harmonisation of the environmental procurement framework in the rail sector at European, and in the long-term global level. By doing so the process of procurement will become more efficient, enabling railways to procure new rolling stock with a sound environmental performance more cost effectively.

The objectives of the second phase of PROSPER are:

- Co-ordinating agreed minimum values for the environmental performance of new rolling stock amongst railways and manufacturers

- Documenting environment related legal aspects for the procurement of new rolling stock (state of the art) and

- Disseminating the results as a UIC Leaflet.


The REPID project

It was launched as the natural follow up to the successful EU funded RAVEL project running from 1998 to 2001. The RAVEL project developed a framework methodology for handling Design for Environment (DFE) and a first web-based solution for environmental communication between the different railway stakeholders.

The two-year REPID project started 1st August 2002 with budget of 257.000 Euro funded by the European Commission. The objectives of the REPID project is to provide, based on the results of the RAVEL project:

  • A framework with a juridical body for dealing with standardisation of Environmental Performance Indicators EPI and data formats within the railway industry
  • A tool for improving usability of Environmental Performance Indicators EPI and data formats.

The REPID Network would be made alive in two ways, by hosting meetings for the network and by providing a web-site (http://www.railway-procurement.org).

In order to make the REPID results come into practise, there is a need for a legal body within the framework of UIC and UNIFE to treat the aspects of standardised EPI’s and material lists. Therefore a “REPID Board” is being launched at the network meeting. One main building block in the project is the REPID methodology which sets up a link between the concept of Eco-efficiency and environmental performance indicators (EPI’s) for the railway industry.

An initial set of indicators has been defined in the REPID project based on the policy of UNIFE and UIC and using results from the projects RAVEL and PROSPER. Also, there is a need for a standardised data format and material list. The REPID methodology is supported by a database and a software solution. The database is the foundation of all functionality in the REPID system. A database model supports a structured management of design projects. These designs can be analysed and compared in order to generate reports and achieve environmental targets.

A web interface and a CAD integrated software has been developed based on the RAVEL workbench tool, and will be the first generation of the REPID tool. Looking ahead, there is a need for further co-operation and communication between all railway stakeholders to succeed in improving environmental performance of rolling stock in the entire life cycle. Here the relation with other ongoing projects, especially the UIC funded project PROSPER, is crucial.

Successful Outcomes

The successful EU funded RAVEL project running from 1998 to 2001 has provided the rail sector with a methodology and prototype software system to support the integration of environmental aspects into the design of new rail vehicles - with quantified environmental performance indicators.

Aspects covered include not only the use of environmentally friendly materials, but also maintenance, such as the turning of damaged wheels, and end-of-life aspects, such as recyclability. Within the RAVEL methodology, these environmental aspects are quantified by the use of environmental performance indicators (EPI) in accordance with the new ISO 14031 standard.

On a micro-level, the EPIs provide a designer with feedback about the environmental performance of his designs. Moreover, an ecodesign knowledge system was developed, offering the user context sensitive ‘feed forward’ about green design directions. The system is based on a categorisation of both the user situation and the available knowledge in three domains: design requirements (i.e. what EPIs need to be addressed), design object (i.e. what type of system is designed), and design action (e.g. material selection, tolerance design,...).

On a macro-level, the EPIs are intended to constitute the environmental language for rail sector wide environmental communication. In call for tenders, rail operators will express their environmental requirements by selecting a subset of the proposed EPIs and by setting quantitative targets. At the rail vehicle manufacturer’s side, the targets will be broken down from the full vehicle level to the level of the individual designer or sub-supplier. On the other hand, the EPI scores of the subsystem designs will be aggregated towards the vehicle level in order to communicate the overall environmental performance to the customer.

Therefore, a definition of eco-efficiency was developed, combining the environmental performance (represented by the EPIs) with economic performance (represented by the full life cycle cost).