International Rail Forum for North America Meeting

  • Seminar
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New York
  • USA


The International Rail Forum for North America is a center for discussion amongst public transit agencies in North America that operate rail systems and an opportunity to bring the region into a global discourse about best practices in the industry.

The primary objective of the Forum is to connect North America’s rail transit agencies to the broader international community that is rich with perspectives and a experience to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and best practices.

Each year, the International Rail Forum for North America will identify critical issues and themes that transit agencies in North America are concerned about and will host workshops, research or conferences to help its members build the capacity to determine solutions, connect and share resources and attain critical knowledge in each subject.

The IRFNA Forum taking place on December 8-9, 2016 in New York will be the very first Forum meeting. We hope to see you there!




Thursday December 8, 2016

8:30 AM   ►  Welcome and forum objectives

Masaki OGATA, UITP President, JR East

Alain FLAUSCH, Secretary General, UITP

Thomas F. PRENDERGAST, MTA Chairman/CEO, host

9:00 AM   ►  Maintaining, operating, managing and reinventing legacy rail systems

Many metros in the world are over 40 years old and some even over 100, and like any piece of infrastructure, they deteriorate over time. If you do nothing, performance and safety will suffer. There comes a time to renew tracks, upgrade signaling, scrap the old control center, upgrade traction power supply, rebuild bridges and tunnels, etc. Such tasks are not appealing politically, and yet, if not done properly and on time, service delivery suffers, leading to dissatisfied customers, bad media coverage, and political pressure.

During this session, experienced top managers will explain their strategies regarding issues such as; keeping service open or closed during renovations, how to rally political and public support for such projects, and more.

Moderator: Thomas F. PRENDERGAST, Chairman/CEO, MTA, New York
Chair: Pere CALVET, Chair Metro Assembly, UITP, FGC, Barcelona

  • State-of-good –repair and modernization at Paris metro, Claude ANDLAUER, RATP, Paris
  • Boosting rail in London after years of under-investments, David HUGHES, London Underground, London

Panelists: Speakers + Chair + Andy BYFORD (Toronto Transit Commission), Paul WIEDEFELD (WMATA), Paul OVERSIER (SF BART)

Coffee break: 10:30AM

11:00 AM   ►  Preparedness and resilience for climate change

Transport systems struggle to cope with extreme weather events that affect operations and assets. Additionally, gradual changes can go unnoticed but still have an impact on the durability and functionality of rail infrastructure.

This Session aims to address the issue of how rail infrastructure shall adapt to these inevitable changes, in terms of planning, designing, constructing, operating and maintaining its assets in the future.

Chair and Moderator: Projjal DUTTA, MTA, New York

  • Hiroto SUZUKI, Disaster Prevention Research Laboratory, East Japan Railway Company, Tokyo
  • Heather FERGUSON, General Manager Scheduling, Chicago Transit Agency, Chicago
  • Gerald FRANCIS, President, Keolis Commuter Services, Boston

Q&A session

Lunch: 12:30PM

1:30 PM   ►  Light rail renaissance – innovations and best practices worldwide

In recent years LRT has been undergoing a dramatic renaissance in North America as well as around the world. More than 127 cities (re)introduced LRT in the past 30 years. This renaissance mainly consists of new design features such as low-floor LRV design, clever urban design features, TOD and landscaping - all of which triggered high interest and ignited discussions in the USA.

This session will look at:

Feedback on the European experience regarding some of the new technologies already deployed, such as “wireless” traction power supply in many forms, the use of Driver Assistance Systems (DAS) for LRT (such devices have made a breakthrough in the automotive sector - as collisions with third parties are the most common incidents in LRT operation), and other innovative measures.

Moderator: Laurent DAUBY, Rail Director, UITP
Chair: Douglas KELSEY, COO TriMet, Portland

  • Experience with wireless LRT, Paolo CARBONE, TIE, Dublin
  • Driver Assistance System for collision avoidance on LRT, Michael RÜFFER, VGF, Frankfurt

Panelists: Speakers + Chair + Bryan PENNINGTON (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority), Michael MRGAN, Ottawa Transit Project Manager, Tom HALLORAN, MTA Maryland, Purple Line Program Control Manager

Coffee break: 3:00PM

3:30 PM   ►  Innovations in technology, customer service and safety culture

In order to encourage people to change their travel habits, they must be offered a variety of convenient and affordable options that fit their lifestyle. Recent developments in service quality, combined and integrated with door-to-door services, customer segmentation, e-retail, infotainment and smart information are enhancing customer experience. Safety is often taken for granted in transit, however recent events remind us that we must constantly work to keep-up with high safety standards. This session will address the topic of rail automation, which is one way of simultaneously addressing safety, customer service, and cost effectiveness.

Moderator: Alain FLAUSCH, UITP Secretary General, Brussels
Chair: Nadine LEE, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles

  • Benefits and experience with full metro automation GOA4, Ramon MALLA, Chair of UITP Observatory on Metro Automation, TMB, Barcelona
  • Delivering the company motto “Caring for life’s journey”:  Adi LAU, Operations Director, MTR, Hong Kong
  • Innovation to serve demanding Japanese commuters, Takeshi NAKAGAWA, Deputy General manager, technology Planning Dept. East Japan Railway, Japan

Panelists: speakers + Chair + Claude ANDLAUER, RATP + Vivienne KING, Vancouver + Vincent VALDES, FTA, Associate Administrator for Research, Demonstration and Innovation

End of sessions 5:00PM

Cocktails at Transit Museum 6:30PM

Dinner: 7:15PM

Friday December 9, 2016

8:30 AM   ►  Preparedness and resilience for terror threats

The threat of terror is ever present. Transit systems are especially vulnerable with the variety of incidents taking place throughout the world including the most recent incidents in New York and Brussels. Security in public transport is clearly a high-profile undertaking that urban transit agencies need to focus on.

Moderator: Thomas KRITZER, Wiener Linien, Former Chair of UITP Security Commission, Vienna
Chair: Ray DIAZ, Director of Security, MTA New York

  • Insights and lessons from Brussels attack in Spring 2016, Luc BIOUL, Deputy CEO, STIB, Brussels
  • Terror preparedness at MTA, Anthony Mercogliano, Assistant Director, Security Program Management, MTA New York
  • Latest developments of anti-terror strategies: an international perspective, Thomas KRITZER, Wiener Linien, Former Chair of UITP Security Commission, Vienna

Q&A session

10:00 AM   ►  Creative Platforms; Art in Public transport

The panel of art management professionals from major cities’ transport agencies will present their most recent projects highlighting permanent art in transit facilities. They will demonstrate how art enhances the customer experience; being an essential component to the public transport environment with high-quality design and architecture. As ridership increases dramatically, customers expect a safe, well-maintained and visually appealing environment – and art that engages and enhances transit spaces is essential.

Moderator: Sandra BLOODWORTH, Director, MTA Arts & Design, MTA, New York

  • Eleanor PINFIELD, Head of Art on the Underground, Transport for London, London
  • Pallas LOMBARDI, Program Manager, Arts-in-Transit, CATS, Charlotte
  • Maya EMSDEN, Deputy Executive Officer, Creative Services, Metro, Los Angeles
  • Xenobia BAILEY, Artist

Note: The registered guests for the Exploring Art Underground tour will meet at Fulton Center at 1:15pm

11:15 AM   ►  Wrap-up, conclusions and closing

Masaki OGATA, Alain FLAUSCH, Andrew BATA

Pick up lunch boxes: 11:30

Departure to technical visits: 12:15PM



Friday afternoon tours (December 9, 2016)

All tours require advance registration – please tick your choice in your event registration

East Side Access Project– Hard Hat Tour

  • Limited to 24 persons
  • Registration is required and is non-transferrable
  • Start time: 1:15pm; duration: 90 minutes

Connecting the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal, East Side Access is one of the largest transportation infrastructure projects currently underway in the United States with a history that reaches back to the 1950’s when discussions were first held regarding regional transportation planning. The project encompasses work in multiple locations in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx and includes more than eight miles of tunneling.
East Side Access is the first expansion of the Long Island Rail Road in over 100 years.  This $10.2 billion megaproject will bring train service from Long Island and Queens into a new state-of-the-art 350,000 square foot concourse and 8-track terminal presently under construction below Grand Central Terminal and Park Avenue.
When completed, East Side Access will serve approximately 162,000 customers a day, providing a faster and easier commute from Long Island and Queens to the east side of Manhattan.

NB: To register for this tour, non-US residents must adhere to the following guidelines and requirements. Please plan accordingly.

Foreign nationals must:

  • Clear US customs/immigration no later than 1:00 pm (eastern)/13:00 on Wednesday, December 7
  • Supply MTA with a final copy of flight itinerary by December 5, 2016


Proper attire for this tour includes clothing (khakis, chinos, jeans, dungarees, etc.,) that participants do not mind getting wet or muddy. Shorts, athletic pants, skirts, armless shirts, and dresses, suit jackets, ties, are NOT considered appropriate attire. During the winter months we do not recommend large puffy jackets that may hinder movement or get caught up in equipment or materials.

Participants must arrive wearing appropriate work/construction/hiking boots which should be waterproof, have deeply treaded soles and sufficient ankle coverage and support.  Sneakers, dress shoes, high-heeled or open-toed shoes are NOT considered appropriate footwear.

You will be visiting an active construction site, so appropriate personal protective equipment must be worn. All attendees will be provided with a hardhat, safety vest and safety glasses.


Conditions Below Ground: This tour can be considered strenuous as there can be a lot of walking and climbing up and down stair towers; it is not recommended for those whose health is not suited to such rigors.
Walking surfaces are often wet, muddy and uneven and may also be icy or slick. Temperatures below ground mimic those at the surface plus or minus 10-15 degrees.


To avoid slip, trip, and fall hazards while onsite, all tours are hands free. Please avoid bringing personal and valuable belongings onsite.  Please walk with personal ID for security check-in at entrance to ESA work zone.


Grand Central Terminal

  • Limited to 25 persons per time slot
  • Two consecutive tours:  1:15 and 3 pm

Experience the most famous and perhaps most photographed terminal in the nation. An entertaining and enlightening tour of Grand Central Terminal focuses not only on the architectural highlights of the Terminal but provides the real story about little known secrets, anecdotes, archival material and the history of the Terminal.

Following these tours, be sure to stop in the NY Transit Museum annex shop in GCT for souvenirs of New York.


Exploring Art Underground with MTA Arts & Design

  • Limited to 30 persons
  • Start time: 1:15; duration: 2 hours

Some of the most exciting and imaginative works of public art in the nation can be found at new and renovated transit facilities in New York.  The tour will begin at Fulton Center -  a transit hub that connects 11 Subway lines - with a firsthand look at Sky Reflector-Net, an integrated artwork created through a collaborative process with James Carpenter Design Associates, Grimshaw and ARUP and new digital art at the station. Next, we travel to the  Broadway-Lafayette-Bleecker Street Station to view Leo Villareal’s adaptive and ever-changing LED sculpture, “Hive.”  As time permits we will tour other stations along the way to see signature works of art integrated into the stations.

For the final stop we will travel to the 34th Street- Hudson Yards station, NYC’s first new subway stop in 26 years and the center of an enormous urban development effort now underway.   Here we view Xenobia Bailey’s stunning mosaic artworks “Funktional Vibrations” installed overhead at the main entry point and ceiling dome.  Afterwards, tour attendees may want to self-tour the adjacent Highline, the much-celebrated elevated pedestrian park built on former rail lines.


The International Rail Forum for North America meeting is open to rail transit agencies member of UITP and selected guest agencies. 

If you have not been invited yet and would like to participate, leave us your contact details (mail to andrew.bata(at) Eligible transit agencies will receive an invitation by email.

Practical information: 


Headquarters of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
20th floor
2 Broadway
New York, NY 10004


UITP negotiated rates for IRFNA participants in these hotels from December 7 to December 9 (when booking, use promo code 'MTA'):

140 Washington Street, New York, NY 10006   Tel: +1 (212) 577-1133           

From $314/night (subject to availability)

52 William Street, New York, NY 10005   Tel: +1 (212) 269-6400                    

From $304/night (subject to availability)

133 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036   Tel: +1 (212) 768-4400

Rooms at $349/night + tax, including continental breakfast

Rate valid from December 7 – 9, 2016. Weekend or extended stays may be arranged by calling the hotel directly at +1 212 789 7670.

This negotiated rate must be booked by October 17, 2016

Note: If you encounter any problems with the websites, try removing 'cookies' from your browser cache. 


Andrew Bata
UITP Regional Manager for North America