From 5 – 7 September 2013 the 11th Turkish Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Forum, organised by the Turkish Ministry of Transport in close partnership with a larger number of Turkish authorities and institutions, was held in Istanbul. More than 6,000 participants including high-ranking politicians and decision-makers from the economic and transport world, academicians and international guests took part in this summit that has gained a worldwide reputation for all actors involved in transport and trade activities in this region at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle-East.
UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux was invited by Turkish authorities as a keynote speaker to open the Railway Sector Panel Programme on 6 September.
Through this invitation to take the floor at high-level in a forum mostly dedicated to transport challenges in Turkey and the Middle-Eastern Region, UIC as the worldwide railway organisation was expected to deliver its own views and messages on a series of perspectives and challenges related to the future of rail transport.
The first expectation of the organisers was that UIC as the global professional organisation of railways could share ideas and views with the audience of this summit on the railway renaissance and dynamism in all parts of the world. Currently, politicians and decision-makers from all regions are demonstrating a renewed confidence in rail transportation to face current and future challenges of mobility, for passengers as well as for goods.
Despite the economic and financial crisis, forecasts conclude strong growth in transport demand in the future. According to the OECD, forecasts up to 2050 point to growth in transport demand, at 80% for freight and 50% for passenger transport. Coping with this demand will require investments in infrastructure amounting to 11,000 billion US dollars – 40% of which should go to rail. Encouraging rail projects and intermodal solutions in synergy with other modes of transport is part of all transport policies across the world, with the aim of facing future challenges in the areas of economy, mobility, energy resources and sustainable development.
As a second point, UIC was expected to shed light on the dynamism of railways in Turkey, a country with spectacular achievements (such as the rapid expansion of high-speed rail, renovation of freight links, connecting or reconnecting the Turkish network to neighbouring countries) and ambitious railway development plans up to 2023, when Turkey will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic! Today, Turkey symbolises the renaissance of rail transport, as can be witnessed in developed as well as in developing countries. It also symbolises Turkey’s confidence in this mode of transport as an effective tool to promote economic development and social progress. To illustrate the level of commitment, more than 40 billion US dollars are to be invested in railway development.
The UIC Director-General’s keynote speech also emphasised the growing importance of the Middle-Eastern railway system and paid tribute to Mr Süleyman Karaman, Director-General of TCDD, who is chairing the UIC Middle-Eastern Region and as such is giving strong impetus to regional cooperation. Let us mention among some of the extremely promising perspectives in the region the development of long-distance East-West and North-South intercontinental corridors that will create new opportunities – as a continuation of the historic “Silk Route” and “Spice Route” – for rail transport in competition or cooperation with other modes, on markets with huge growth potential.
Through UIC’s presence at the 11th Turkish Transportation Forum, the worldwide community of railways also intended to express admiration and congratulations to the Turkish government, to national authorities and Turkish State Railways for their remarkable achievements with the completion of the Marmaray Project. The creation of the first fixed link between the European and Asian continents and its inauguration this autumn is more than a transport project. It is a historic achievement for Turkey, for Europe, for Asia and the Middle-East that will influence the organisation of rail transport routes between continents in the long term.
The printed text of the keynote speech delivered by UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux is available at: