Tuesday 9 July 2024

38th Regional Assembly Europe held in Lisbon on 2 July 2024

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The 38th Regional Assembly Europe met in Lisbon on the morning of 2 July, bringing together senior representatives of member companies, partner organisations and colleagues from the UIC HQ team. Participants were warmly welcomed by Europe Vice-Chairman Martin Frobisher, Network Rail, François Davenne, UIC Director General and Sandra Géhénot, UIC Director Europe.

Pedro Moreira, President of CP (Comboios de Portugal), welcomed the meeting with an introductory presentation on Portuguese railways and an overview on the company’s main projects and investments. CP manages 446 rolling stock vehicles and is actively investing in the renovation and modernisation of its fleet to ensure passenger comfort and safety. The company is also focusing on high-speed rail and is planning to buy a new fleet of high-speed trains. High-speed will help promote rail capacity, resilience, competitiveness and innovation, extend accessibility and connectivity, as well as decarbonisation of the transport sector.

The meeting was an opportunity to review the work undertaken in the Region in Q1&Q2 and some of the focus topics of the European Work Programme:

In addition to the work undertaken alongside the statutory meetings, Sandra Géhénot described the other activities of the Europe region such as the series of UIC management board bilateral exchanges with its members and partners, in particular meeting members at the UIC Day in Finland, as well as meeting MAV in Budapest and Rail Baltica in Riga.

Exchanges have been held in the context of UIC’s cooperation agreements, the most important being with ERA (European Union Agency for Railways), in alignment with the UIC standardisation strategy.

A number of annexes have been signed between the two organisations on TAP-Telecom, Safety and Operations, HOF, Combined Transport and Safety Culture Peer Reviews. An additional annex on location coding is currently being prepared.

Meetings with ERA are held three to four times a year and the content is shared with other members of the GRB (Group of Representative Bodies), in particular CER and EIM, with whom bilateral meetings are held in the shape of the CER-ERA Steering Unit and the CER-EIM bilateral meetings, which are planned around three times a year. This enables communication to be as efficient and as coordinated as possible between the region’s stakeholders.

Progress was reviewed on the following topics:

FRMCS: led by Jean-Michel Evanghelou, UIC Director Telecom, Signalling and Digital Applications, and Director Financial Controlling and Project Operations. The FRMCS (Future Railway Mobile Communication System) is an advanced communications system designed to evolve the currently used GSM-R system, with two major objectives:

  • Ensure the rapid replacement of the GSM-R system in Europe and outside Europe, because of the obsolescence of this system foreseen by the industry in the period 2030-2035.
  • Provide the necessary foundation for the digitalisation of the CCS domain and then improve capacity, reliability, punctuality and quality of service: it is clearly a digitalisation enabler for ETCS evolution, ATO, TCMS and other future train applications (smart maintenance, video, etc.).

Emphasis was placed on the launch of the Rail Academy and the ERJU Open Call for FRMCS V2 testing. RAE participants saluted the work done by UIC and were informed about the next key milestones regarding the first pilots for FRMCS first edition deployments.

Ticketing/OSDM: presented by Bertrand Minary, UIC Passenger Director. The Open Sales and Distribution Model (OSDM) is a rail sector (Railways, Ticket Vendors and System Integrators) specification enabling interoperable ticket sales for trains and other modes of transport and is defined in the UIC International Railway Solution (IRS) 90918-10. The sector Ticketing Roadmap aims to improve cross border journeys of rail passengers.
The current issue regarding standardisation is a result of the Commission’s decision in the context of the revision of the TAF/TAP TSI to remove the reference to the OSDM standard from the Regulation and to have the CEN/CENELEC norm as reference instead (NeTEx & SIRI).

The meeting took a deep dive into the following work programme topics:

  • Safety Culture Peer Review – reported on by Frédéric Henon, UIC Freight Director and Head of Operations and Safety. To complement the existing coordination framework between the two organisations, ERA and UIC signed an annex in May to launch a Railway Safety Culture Peer Review programme to enhance safety culture within the railway sector. The primary objective of this initiative is to establish a Railway Safety Culture Peer Review procedure, with UIC playing a leading role in coordination, methodology, and training. This procedure aims to promote peer reviews within the railway sector, with the main stakeholders being infrastructure managers and railway undertakings, although others such as wagon keepers and manufacturers are also welcome to take part.
  • DAC (Digital Automatic Coupling) – reported on by Giancarlo De Marco Telese, UIC Deputy Head of Operations and Safety. DAC is the key enables to driving digitalisation and automation for rail freight and UIC is tasked with coordinating DACoord (Consortium responsible for the European DAC Delivery Programme – EDDP) stakeholder management activities from 2023-2025. Also in the context of EU-RAIL, UIC is part of the project EU-Rail.OP.01.22-LOT 2 project which targets to deliver:
  • As-is analysis of the railway system, considering operational, functional, logical/digital & physical assets, and identifying the pain points related to DAC/FDFTO
  • Harmonised DAC operational procedures
    RAE members are asked to support the work of UIC on the operationalisation of DAC by providing the required resources through opt-ins, and by providing rule experts to support the elaboration of operational rules within Task 4 activities.
  • Cost reduction of catenary – reported on by Christian Chavanel, UIC Railway System Director. The Rail System Forum Energy Sector is tasked with publishing a document with best practice on saving costs from electrification. In addition, UIC plans to organise an event on high-output catenary renewal trains on 5 November in collaboration with SNCF.
  • Rail Academy – reported on by Jean-Michel Evanghelou. The UIC Rail Academy was created in 2023 to better meet the training needs of UIC members and all railway actors in general. Several format and categories of training will be proposed progressively. To ensure a professional content and the high quality of the training sessions, ad-hoc partnerships will be developed according to the needs and depending on the categories of content.
    By providing a portfolio of adapted training programs to develop specific skills, particularly on new technologies, UIC will go on supporting regional training centres and create synergies between them in order to meet the specific needs of members in the regions within a common framework.

The next meeting of the European Management Committee will be held on 23 September 2024 in Berlin alongside the Innotrans transport fair.

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