8th UIC world congress on high speed rail 2012 Successful and historic "meeting point" for all stakeholders involved in high speed rail

8th UIC World Congress on High Speed Rail - Key Figures

  • 3 Ministers
  • 32 CEOs and Directors from railway companies
  • 1,000 congress delegates from 37 countries
  • 2,700 visitors
  • 2 round tables and 25 parallel sessions, including 3 special sessions for high speed corridors around the world
  • 190 speakers: participants in opening session, round tables and parallel sessions
  • 80 exhibitors from 12 countries, 2,300 sq m of exhibition
  • 13 participants in the students’ programme
  • Train exhibition at 30th street station, Philadelphia
  • 3 technical visits

The 8th UIC world congress on high speed rail, jointly organised by UIC and the American Association of Public Transportation (APTA), was held in July 2012 in Philadelphia, PA, USA. the theme of this 8th edition, bringing together three ministers, 32 CEOs and directors from railway companies worldwide, international organisations such as the world bank, 1,000 congress delegates from 37 countries, 2,700 visitors, 190 speakers participating in the opening session, two round tables and 25 parallel sessions including three special sessions for high speed corridors around the world, 80 exhibitors from 12 countries and 13 participants in the students’ programme, was:

“High speed rail: connecting people, building sustainable prosperity”

the high attendance, around 1,000 high speed rail professionals in total, from all continents, has demonstrated among others the influence of high speed rail experts on decision-makers.
during the opening session, UIC director-General Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux said: “the congress is a unique platform. all over the world, high speed rail means economic development, competitiveness and growth; less congestion; less dependence on foreign energy resources; and fewer casualties on the roads. conference participants over the next three days will see the value and benefits of high speed rail and practical ways to implement it.”
he insisted on the historic moment for high speed rail, following the California vote held on 6 July 2012, just before the opening of the 8th world congress on high speed rail held for the first time in North America: “I truly hope this conference will become a milestone in the history of high speed rail.” he added: “the decision made on 6 July was symbolic in its timing [of the 8th world congress on high speed rail convening in Philadelphia] – so, are we [UIC] a lucky charm?” Jean-Pierre loubinoux added that the “Washington Day” organised the day before the opening of the congress presented a “unique opportunity to have all prominent actors in high speed rail gathered all in one row [at the meeting].”

Messages delivered during the UIC World Congress

Many American politicians consider that high speed rail is the legacy they should leave to the next generations as they now benefit from the heritage of the interstate highway network.

During the opening session us secretary of transportation ray lahood said: “it’s historical time to be here in the USA. it’s an exciting moment to spotlight high speed rail. it’s happening right now (it’s not a dream), all over the world and it has been for decades.” he added “America has always been a nation of dreamers and builders. “what we are doing is what other generations have done for us.” he continued “high speed rail is not a pipe dream... it has come to America. the train has left the station.” high speed rail is no longer a new-born system but a mature one having already transported twice the number of the earth’s dwellers without injuring anybody. Guillaume Pepy, President of french railways (SNCF), reminded participants that even in countries where high speed rail is advanced, it’s necessary to reinvent the high speed service. as far as he’s concerned he underlined three questions that are worth answering about high speed rail: the investments (how can we build the future high speed networks?), the competition (need to welcome other competitors or players in the market) and the customers’ needs and services (progress through more digital services, intermodal facilities and seamless transport).

Most of the Congress participants think that the current economical and financial crisis will slow down the development of the high speed network worldwide.
today’s stringency affects the funding of high speed projects. nevertheless, the tour around the world made during the opening ceremony has highlighted many ongoing projects both in countries where high speed rail is long established (such as Japan, France,...) or just starting (such as morocco, Saudi Arabia, ...). in addition, just before the congress the Californian senate gave the green light for the financing of the first stage of a high speed line. this may spark a rapid blooming of HSR in the united states. Michael Melaniphy, APTA CEO and President cited the recent breakthrough in California, where the state senate passed a budget measure in favour of high speed rail to reaffirm its commitment to the technology. “this vote will contribute to a balanced transportation system, and we are thrilled it all came together right before you arrived for this congress.” he continued: “your presence here in the united states
– you, who are the world experts – will help us take our message and make it understood by those in Washington.”

During the first round table organised during the Congress, titled “How to deliver a High Speed Rail project in today’s economic context?” and moderated by UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, several speakers underlined the need to educate the stakeholders of the high speed rail systems on sustainable benefits that can exist, not only from a “green” point of view but also in terms of economics. they also mentioned the importance of fighting to reduce costs and delimitate risks of public-private partnerships (PPP).

The second round table – moderated by APTA CEO and President Michael Melaniphy – targeting the future role of high speed in the transport market, has clearly demonstrated that all means of transport are going through a particularly innovative period.
it looks like we are at the eve of a revolution where two trends seem irreversible. firstly people care less for car ownership. as the border between private and public transport is blurring, seamless door-to-door trips including a rail segment become more attractive. secondly internet and GPs are invading all the components of the transport system and information has a pervasive influence on the market shares and on the competition between and within transport modes.