Urban Rail Infrastructure in a harmonised Europe


“Urban Track” is a EU funded research project which aims at the development of innovative track products to fit in a harmonised European market. The products are being developed according to a ERRAC 2020 vision: low life cycle cost, high performance, modular, safe, low noise and vibration. The project started on 1 September 2006 and has a duration of 4 years.


The strategic aim is to support separate projects for light and heavy rail which consider the cost-effective introduction of new high performance track infrastructure products and techniques as positive drivers in modular and interoperable rail systems. The ambition is to develop and build an integrated family of “maintenance-free” modular track infrastructure solutions, which can be adapted to specific circumstances and have the benefit of standardised components. Based on real and verifiable figures of today's life cycle costs that comprise track construction/renewal costs, maintenance and monitoring expenditure, the target should lead to a substantial reduction in track infrastructure costs, with a significant increase of the availability of track infrastructure (for both heavy and light rail applications). This must be demonstrated as a result of the implementation of the projects’ findings."


The project aims at developing five innovative new products in the urban track sector:

  1. Prefabricated track modules
  2. Green LRT/tram tracks
  3. Embedded metro tracks
  4. Alternative low cost tracks for floating slab in tunnel and at grade
  5. Maintenance free interface between rail and street pavement for embedded tracks

as well as six innovative analysis methods:

  1. Innovative track installation methods (new tracks) [method 1]
  2. Automated track installation [method 2]
  3. Fast renewal and refurbishment methods (LRT/tram) [method 3]
  4. Cost/benefit analysis method for urban rail infra works (LRT/tram) [method 4]
  5. Preventive and predictive maintenance for metro tracks [method 5]
  6. Techniques for reducing wear in curves and turnouts (LRT/tram) [method 6]

and three innovative reference documents:

  1. Harmonised standard for 'Rail Transit Track Inspection and Maintenance' (metro) [standard 1]
  2. Harmonised LCC calculation method [standard 2]
  3. Harmonised functional performance specifications [standard 3]
The project aims at a reduction of the LCC by at least 25% for new projects.


The project is driven by network operators/infra managers. There are several network operators including the main European networks, research institutes, engineering companies and industry from ten different countries. Partner UNIFE will disseminate towards its industrial members (who will advice on industry needs and requirements) and the network users (who will act as strategical and technical advisers to the URBAN TRACK project).

Urban Track has a total budget of about 18,6 million of which about 10 million is financed by the European Union’s 6th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. The second part of about 8,6 million is financed by the partners.


6th Framework Programme

This project was made possible in the European Union's 6th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development

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