Friday 23 September 2022

European Management Committee meets on the eve of Innotrans 2022

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The European Management Committee (EMC) met on the morning of 19 September 2022 in hybrid format, with participants present in both Berlin (Germany) and online. CEOs and senior representatives of UIC member railways and partner organisations across Europe (ADIF, BaneNor, CP, DB, FS Italiane, LDZ, Lineas, ÖBB, MAV, Network Rail, PKP, CFR, SNCF, SNCB, CER, EIM as well as UIC HQ) contributed to a very engaging meeting.
As part of the opening, a moment was taken to remember that today was the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II of the UK, the reason why the flags in Berlin were all flying at half-mast.

Francisco Cardoso dos Reis, representing Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP) and Chairman of the UIC European Region, together with François Davenne, UIC Director General and Simon Fletcher, UIC Director Europe, welcomed the participants and extended a special welcome to those colleagues joining the meeting for the first time.

Mr Cardoso dos Reis recalled the complexities of the current times and, in particular, the situation in Ukraine. He urged all the member railways to continue providing all the necessary mobility services for the transport of people and goods and in so doing to uphold the core UIC values of Unity, Solidarity and Universality.
Mr Davenne added that there are very important values to uphold especially in these challenging times. The current situation has left a dent in the association’s finances and this has led to the need for a in-depth review of where adjustments can be made in both the short and longer terms. This, when coupled with the inflationary situation, means that some tough decisions will be needed and he invited the EMC College to give their support to UIC on this matter as it will be much needed.

In welcoming the delegates to Berlin, Deutsche Bahn’s CEO Dr Richard Lutz said it was a pleasure to see everyone again in Berlin for Innotrans, an event which showcases the future of rail and brings railways together. He thanked UIC for its work, mentioning its contribution to making railways the most climate-friendly mode of transport, its efforts in improving the interoperability of the railway system, and for playing its technical role in the European technical standardisation programme. He reminded the meeting that UIC is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and has earned great merit in the last one hundred years. Mr Lutz wished everyone a good week, with good dialogue and discussion to achieve the goals that the railways are seeking to achieve. Mr Lutz also thanked Francisco Cardoso dos Reis for his role as chairman and for his clear message and decisions based on UIC’s universal values.

There followed a number of other interventions including from Tomas Lachowicz (PKP) on behalf of UIC President Krzysztof Mamiński, Jean-Pierre Farandou, (CEO, SNCF), Cristina Hammersmark (BaneNor, representing the Chair of EIM) and Andrea Minuto Rizzo (FSI). The general consensus being that the core values are absolute and that everyone stands by in Unity, with Solidarity and Universality.

Amongst other topics addressed, the scenarios for the 2023 budget were detailed. EMC supported the situation in respect to the rest of this year and the budgetary planning for 2023 and 2024. This takes account of the short fall that is being currently experienced and sets out a plan for keeping the accounts balanced every year.

Being able to power our trains in an ever changing and more complicated environments means identifying alternative means of traction energy. Mr Fletcher recalled that hydrogen and other alternative sources of energy (part of the current European Action Plan being implemented) is an issue high on the agenda of the EMC and at European regulatory level. The use of Hydrogen is developing and the approach behind the European Action Plan is to draw together successes and bold ideas and bring them all into the centre so that the Railway System Forum Energy Sector can chart a way forward.
Network Rail, DB and ProRail have presented their plans so far and SNCF will do very soon. The EMC completely supported this approach and are keen to be kept fully up to date on progress of this coordinated approach.

Freight and getting more traffic off the roads and onto the railways with its significantly smaller carbon footprint is a core developmental topic. UIC Freight Director Mrs Sandra Géhénot gave an update on the work in progress and in particular the implementation of the so-called game changers. This is a programme being driven by the RFF (Rail Freight Forward) coalition which is the power behind the Freight Work Programme which the Europe region is promoting. RFF is working on three strategic levers for 30% modal share by 2030, which involves really maximising cooperation between IMs, RUs and Authorities on the issues of connectivity, optimisation, supporting technologies, improving system performance and a common approach towards data exchange.
Whilst this is of significant business interest to the freight operators, there is also a strong systemic interest from the freight operators in respect to asset availability and maintenance.

As if that was not already enough of a programme for freight, the meeting also heard an update on the regarding the work now being done to prepare for the implementation phase of the Digital Automatic Coupler (DAC) for freight traffic. UIC Railway System Director Christian Chavanel focused on the UIC’s involvement in the programme, decisions taken within the European DAC delivery programme with regard to energy, data and communication system, migration roadmap, and draft technical packages for the necessary cost/benefit analysis.

Another area of considerable success is the UIC’s engagement in the ERJU (Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking) and the System Pillar in particular. François Davenne spoke about the importance of UIC’s coordination and contributory role in the ERJU consortium. He explained that UIC is an affiliated partner in ad-hoc domains such as Digital Modelling and FRMCS, many of which are in liaison with companies around the table who have Founder status on the JU.

The forthcoming COP27 later this year presents an excellent opportunity to continue to promote the green credentials of the railways. Joo Hyun Ha, UIC Senior Sustainability Advisor, on behalf of Lucie Anderton, Head of Sustainable Development, gave an update on UIC’s planned engagement.
There is a wonderful opportunity to work with our colleagues at the UITP as much of the focus will be on active mobility and public transport.
The MoreTrains joint communications campaign was spotlighted. This aims to raise the profile of the railway sector and to rally key stakeholders to speak with a unified voice and demonstrate rail’s climate potential and ambition. The sustainable development team is currently working on a paper entitled Next stop 2030: sustainable mobility that we want, focusing on transforming cities and communities, energy, technology and innovation, which will be reviewed later this month.
The EMC noted the continued significant efforts to position the railways in this international environment and to support rail’s engagement in COP27. There is much that the railways can do in encouraging their national governments to position themselves fully behind this campaign.

Mr Fletcher highlighted the meetings being planned for next year and in particular that for 2 EMC meetings invitations have been received for a meeting in Hungary (March) and Latvia (September). It is strongly hoped that these meetings can be done as fully physical ones.

Mr Pafféri (MAV) expressed his great pleasure at being able to extend this invitation and Mr Kleinbergs (LDZ) said that the meeting in Riga had been in planning for some time now and he really hoped to see everyone there a year from now. It would be held conjointly with a High Level Exchange Meeting for all the railways in the Baltic States.

Francisco Cardoso dos Reis thanked the participants for their support and for a productive meeting, reminding them of the key strategic objectives that have been put in place. He wished them an enjoyable stay in Berlin and fruitful discussions at Innotrans.

For further information about the work of the European Region please contact Simon Fletcher, UIC Director Europe:
fletcher@uic.org

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