The meeting was devoted to a review of railway cooperation in the Maghreb region and to plans for the future integration of the rail systems of Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Egypt. Tunisian Railways Chairwoman Mrs Sabiha Derbel opened the event before giving the floor to the Tunisian Minister of Transport Mr Anis Ghedira (represented by Secretary of State for Transport Hichem Ben Ahmed) and Mr Taieb Baccouche (represented by Saouzi Agel on behalf of the AMU General Secretariat). Mr Said Chandid, Director of Strategy and Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the UIC African Region, ONCF Chairman and CEO Mr Mohamed R. Khlie, presented the results of the African Region’s work over the past five years on Mr Khlie’s behalf. To conclude the opening session, UIC Fundamental Values Department Director and African Region Coordinator Mr Jerzy Wisniewski welcomed participants on behalf of UIC Director-General Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, who was unable to attend in person, then presented the Region’s work plan and medium-term outlook.
Mrs Derbel, who currently chairs the Maghreb Rail Transport Committee, spoke of the progress made with regional cooperation projects, and encouraged the various partners to step up the closer collaboration which would enable joint priority projects to go ahead.
The technical experts invited gave presentations highlighting the opportunities for greater interoperability between railways in the region.
Mr Abdoulaye Dieng, Director-General of the African Railway Information and Promotion Agency in Senegal, stated his support for and commitment to cooperation with the Western and Central African region and with the UIC African Region.
SNCFT/UIC African Region seminar on “Safety at Railway Crossings – Risks and Challenges”
Tunis, 19 and 20 October 2016
Whilst the seminar focused on improving railway safety, it also provided an opportunity to discuss and share experience on accident typologies, investment, and global good practice in this area.
The following speakers spoke during the opening session: Mrs Sabiha Derbel – Chairwoman and CEO (SNCFT), Mr Anis Ghedira – Tunisian Minister of Transport (represented by Hichem Ben Ahmed), Mrs Houira Alimessaoud – CTFM Permanent Secretary, Said Chandid – Director of Strategy and Chief of Staff to ONCF CEO Mr M.R. Khlie, and Mr Abdoulaye Dieng – Director-General of the African Railway Information and Promotion Agency.
UIC Director-General Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux addressed participants in the seminar by video message. He welcomed the railwaymen and women of Tunisia and the African Region, and hailed efforts to improve the standard of rail services in the region, especially those aiming to improve safety. He thanked the SNCFT President and her team for their dedication and the Tunisian Minister of Transport for their support for and participation in the seminar. He then informed participants that work in the field of safety/security was well-advanced at UIC and that members of the Safety Platform enjoyed access to good outputs and continued to initiate relevant projects. He underscored UIC’s effective work on level crossing safety in the shape of ILCAD (International Level Crossing Awareness Day), the next edition of which would be held in Montreal on 2 June 2017 with the support of ViaRail Canada. He also encouraged members of the African Region to collaborate more closely by participating actively in UIC’s work.
UIC African Region Coordinator Mr Jerzy Wisniewski then presented in detail the work of the Safety Platform and its place within the overall UIC Headquarters structure. He cited some examples of safety improvements around the world, as well as a selection of results and recommendations from the UIC Safety Database (SDB), which was created 15 years ago.
ONCF Director of Strategy Mr Said Chandid presented the results of work conducted by the Regional Office and the outputs achieved from 2010-2016, before turning to the outlook for the years to come.
During the two-day seminar, representatives from European, African and Asian railways, experts from UIC, OTIF, UDM, IPEMED, EUROMED, officials from the Tunisian Ministries of Transport and Infrastructure and local government agencies, and delegates from the Tunisian Road Safety Association, Tunisian road haulage companies and railway equipment suppliers discussed current trends and challenges in this field.
The seminar concluded with recommendations to achieve buy-in on the issue from as many stakeholders as possible, develop safety culture amongst the general public, share and learn from good practice, and to highlight the cost to society of accidents at railway crossings.
Following the seminar, participants enjoyed a technical visit to the Tunis Rapid Transit System (RFR). Delegates visited construction sites and were able to observe the progress being made in building the modern urban rail system. With a total length of 89 km, the network will make life easier for inhabitants of Tunis to get around and relieve the city’s saturated road network. RFR expects ridership of 600,000 passengers per day. The project is making promising headway, with the network set to open to service by the end of 2018.