SNCF joins the SPARK platform
The Railway Safety and Standards Board, a British independent, not-for-profit, organisation owned by rail industry stakeholders, including operators, infrastructure managers, and rolling stock companies, sets policy guidelines for industrial strategies, cost reduction, improved performance, and the capacity of systems to meet needs. “To perform this role, the RSSB has an ambitious research programme financed by the government and its members along with a documentary platform. It’s called SPARK”, explains Christophe Chéron, European partnerships manager at SNCF Innovation & Research. Begun in 2011, SPARK is a free online collaborative tool (www.sparkrail.org). Designed to allow rail industry stakeholders to share their knowledge, the platform has a collection of more than 22,000 articles (reports, analyses, experience feedback) deposited by the 16,500 members of a community made up of all RSSB members and several international organisations such as the Union internationale des Chemins de fer (UIC), the World Congress of Rail Research (WCRR ), Japan’s Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI), and the Plataforma Tecnológica Ferroviaria Española (PTFE).
“Since September, SPARK has had a new member – SNCF”, adds Chéron. SNCF will thus have access to an international database that will enable it to accelerate its research and innovation activities. In return, SNCF will supply various types of information to SPARK: summaries of current projects with their schedules; articles published in scientific journals, presentations at scientific proceedings and the minutes of those meetings – nothing that is confidential or protected, however. “Logging onto SPARK helps to understand who is doing what and where. This type of partnership promotes research through the sharing of information and thus accelerates innovation”, says Chéron.