PERES Meeting Rail Industry at Allegheny County Department of Economic Development

At the final major networking meeting of PERES pilot study trip, members of European delegation met with the representatives of Wabtec and Port Authority of Allegheny County.

Wabtec is one of global leading locomotive manufacturers, with over 27,000 employees worldwide, with headquarters in Pittsburgh, Chicago and Paris. The companies portfolio includes locomotives, compressed air braking systems, train control systems and other systems for railway vehicles. In the US, 65% of their activities is based on freight transport, and 35% for passenger transport.

After meeting with representatives of Wabtec, European delegation had an opportunity to meet with Port Authority of Allegheny County, provider of public transport for Allegheny County. Once again, the same issues were raised as with all public transport operators in the United States – outdated systems, need for new vehicles and interest in new efficient technologies.

Visit to Carnegie Mellon University

On the second day of the visit of European delegation to Pittsburgh, PERES study mission had an opportunity to visit Carnegie Mellon University, where through a series of panels, the attendees were introduced to innovative solutions in smart city and mobility.

PERES study mission visited College of Engineering, that focuses on research and application of new solutions in the fields of connected autonomous mobility, drone analysis of bridges, cybersecurity, biometrics and advanced manufacturing.

They were also introduced to Traffic 21, college’s multi-disciplinary research institute focused on transport technologies and solving complex urban problems. They were presented with the institute’s advanced programmes, such as RoadBotics, which conducts road assessments, RapidFlow, developing smart transportation technologies for smart cities, and Aptiv, which creates intelligence for connected and automated vehicles. Traffic21 has also presented its Data Analysis Center for Mobility, that, records multimodal data and creates a dynamic model for the region that can provide predictive analytics. One of the examples given was the use of such analytics to find out when is the best time to close one of the 446 bridges in Pittsburgh in order not to hinder traffic.




PERES Mission Reaches Pittsburgh

After completing the agenda in Cleveland, PERES pilot study mission moved to Pittsburgh, where it was welcomed by the Secretary for Economic Development of Pennsylvania State, Dennis M. Davin, on behalf of Governor Tom Wolf, and by the Mayor of Pittsburgh, William Peduto.

Following a high-level welcome, meetings were held with the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, the Allegheny Conference and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, during which the European Delegation was presented with the economic overview of the region, opportunities for partnerships and investment opportunities in Pittsburgh.

Large part of the networking reception was dedicated to the fact that Pittsburgh managed to completely shift its economy from being centered around the steel industry to an innovation- and research-driven economy. This is largely assisted by 35 universities and colleges with their research centers, low cost of living, favorable tax policies and presence of major innovator companies.

Concerning railway network, Pennsylvania is also viewed favorably, with over 1,300 miles of railways, three major railway operators and three intermodal terminals.

PERES Team Meets Ohio’s Transport Innovators

As a final point of the agenda in Cleveland, members of the PERES study group met with the representatives of two companies involved in testing and deploying innovative technologies in transport.

In an interesting session, Mr. Andrew Bremer and Mr. Jason Stanford presented Drive Ohio, an agency that seeks to help establish new smart technologies in transport, as well as the project of 33 Smart Mobility Corridor, a proving ground for new technologies.

In a very interesting presentation, they explained the ways in which they seek to implement new technologies in transport, seeking more communication of vehicles and infrastructure, using drone technologies, sensor data and mobile and bluetooth-based applications.

Meeting With Railway Operators

While in Cleveland, PERES Team had an excellent opportunity to meet with the representatives of major railway operators and infrastructure managers in the US.

This included Mr. Michael Schipper, Deputy General Manager of Greater Cleveland Transport Authority, Cleveland’s state-funded public transport system. Mr. Schipper introduced the PERES team to the state of railway public transport in Cleveland, noting that the company’s rolling stock fleet will have to be replaced in five years. He also talked about new technologies his company is interested in – based on predictive maintenance, mobile ticketing systems and other innovations in customer service.

Mr. Paul Jeffers from Norfolk Southern, one of the largest freight operators in the US spoke of the importance of intermodal transport for his company, especially as the main source of revenue – coal – is seeing decline with renewable energy. He talked about his company’s investments in positive train control systems, and the company’s expectations for the implementation to conclude in 2020. Apart from plans and current situation he also spoke of challenges – the plans to retrofit DC locomotives to increase the number of AC-powered ones, the need to outsource spare parts and slowly outsourcing engineering with natural retirement. He stated that the company currently has to supplement all inhouse capabilities.

As a contrast to Norfolk Southern, Mr. Jerry Vest presented Genesse & Wyoming Inc, a group of independent small railway operators that came into existence by buying or leasing unprofitable lines from large companies. He presented G&W’s business model, the expansion to business operation in Australia and UK, and challenges the business model brings – namely, older fleets and lower profit margins compared to the major railway operators.

Institutional Roundtable on Ohio’s Rail and Transport

A high-level institutional roundtable was organized for the PERES study mission, with the support of Team NEO and JobsOhio, attracting representatives of institutions in charge of public transport in Ohio and Cleveland.

Matthew Dietrich, representative of the Ohio Rail Development Commission, a government agency in charge of non-legislative matters in railway transport presented the railway sector in Ohio in impressive number – being 4th in the US in railway network infrastructure, 3rd in intermodal transport, and with 2.8 billion USD turnover. He also suggested at a large opportunity, with Ohio having 5,800 level crossings in need of new technologies for management.

Lloyd McAdam from Ohio Department of Transportation also noted that Ohio’s has the 2nd state in the US by the number of bridges. While he openly admitted that there are no funds for expansion of the infrastructure, and that the funds are used for maintenance, he noted that this is also an opportunity as efficiency is one of the most sought-after items in the new technologies. He also listed a number of applications of new technologies that his institution is testing in transport management, focused on mobile technologies, sensor systems and data-based management systems.

The final panelist, Mr. Moussa Kassis from Ohio’s Small Business Center spoke of the programs his organization provides to assist the development of SMEs in Ohio.

PERES Study Mission Meets With Ohio’s Top Research Institutes

As a part of the pilot study trip to USA, PERES team met with the representatives of Ohio Aerospace Institute and NASA Glenn Research Center, two main research centers in Ohio.

During the exhaustive presentations of the two institutions, the attendees had an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the capacities of these institutions, the research fields they are currently involved in and their applicability to the railway sector. These two meetings and contacts with these institutions provided new opportunities to the support transfer of technology and new value chains for the Rail Supply SMEs.

US Study Mission Visits Molded Fiberglass Companies

PERES study mission had an opportunity to visit and get introduced to Molded Fiberglass Companies (MFC), one of the leading manufacturers in the field of fiberglass materials.

The study mission was welcomed by Andy Juhola, Senior Vice President of the company, who introduced them to the company history, and its manufacturing program, focused mainly on automotive industry, as well as its activities in the railway sector. The mission had an opportunity to do a tour of company manufacturing facilities, and get acquainted with the technology, production process and receive information on the possibilities for cooperation.

Meeting Team NEO and JobsOhio

Moving to Cleveland, Ohio, PERES mission met with representatives of Team NEO and JobsOhio, two organizations operating in the area of business development and attracting new businesses and business partners to Ohio’s thriving economy.

At the preliminary evening meeting, hosted by the representatives of two Ohio-based organizations, members of the PERES study mission had an opportunity to receive general information on the state of Ohio, its economy, tax system and financial incentives in case they decide to expand their business activities into this US state.