Wednesday 26 June 2024

Fit for Freight Spring Days 2024

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The International Union of Railways (UIC) successfully hosted the Fit for Freight Spring Days from 10 to 13 June 2024. The knowledge transfer webinar series, moderated by Martin Polák, UIC, brought together experts to share insights and best practices on key business topics in the railway sector such as:

  • Quality and safety management
  • Audit management
  • Sustainability reporting

These three topics form part of the core of the UIC Freight Competence Centres, which focus on advancing rail freight transport to tackle operational, regulatory, interoperability and digitalisation-related challenges. The UIC Quality Expert Group, organised within the Train Operation Competence Centre, was highlighted due to its role in ensuring consistent and harmonised management systems, sharing best practices and establishing common standards and guidelines for implementing these systems.

10 June - Quality and safety management

Speakers: Stefan Hackl, Rail Cargo Group; Roland Rieder, BLS Cargo; and Philip Van den Bosch, UIC.

Webinar highlights:

The core principles and benefits of quality management systems (QMS) for railway businesses were explained, detailing the internal and external factors which influence an organisation, the role of leadership, planning and risk mitigation, support and training, operational control, performance evaluation, and the continuous improvement process. The webinar therefore provided a comprehensive overview, supported by business examples, of QMS and certifications as defined by ISO standards.

A comprehensive overview of safety management systems (SMSs) and their operation was provided, with a particular focus on the role and responsibilities of the Entity in Charge of Maintenance (ECM). How important it is to have SMSs within the railway sector was underscored through a real-incident case study, demonstrating how these systems can effectively address operational safety concerns in a joint, systematic, and holistic manner. Furthermore, cultivating a robust safety culture within railway companies is essential for promoting SMSs in the pursuit of operational excellence.

12 June - Audit management

Speakers: Imre Elek, CEFIC; Stefan Hackl, Rail Cargo Group; Philip Van den Bosch, UIC.

Webinar highlights:

The webinar started with an overview of the audits and essential routine inspections conducted by internal staff or external auditors to verify a business’s compliance with standards. As these audits assess systems, processes, and products, in order to conduct an effective audit, strategic planning, the incorporation of diverse techniques and auditors for new insights, and the integration of unfamiliar standards is required. An integrated audit approach was strongly advocated for during the session.

A presentation was then given on the Safety and Quality Assessment for Sustainability (SQAS) joint audit programme in the chemical industry, which offers standardised assessments, insight into supply chain operations, and assistance when selecting logistics providers. Covering safety, security, quality, environmental, and social responsibility, the SQAS helps companies build safety capabilities, reduce incident risks, and enhance supply chain credibility.

Insights into the IATA airline sector’s De-Icing/Anti-Icing Quality Control Pool (DAQCP) were shared, emphasising critical safety requirements for airlines. The goals of the DAQCP are to ensure safety, improve standards, expand the scope, and maintain financial health. The benefits also include finance and logistics-related savings, better quality control processes, and updated inspection checklists.

Finally, the UIC Audit4all project was presented. The project is a railway sector initiative which brings together companies with a shared supplier base to conduct unified audits in quality, safety, and sustainability. It aims to streamline processes, reduce redundancy, and save costs while improving compliance and reducing risk. With 22 members interested, the initiative is gaining traction sector wide, attracting participation from the passenger sector, infrastructure managers, and the industry.

13 June - Sustainability reporting

Speakers: Christine Vanoppen, Lineas; Lucie Anderton, UIC; Philip Van den Bosch (UIC).

Webinar highlights:

The first session covered the progress and growing global importance of sustainability reporting through Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) metrics, including a 2024 update on new regulations and interconnected standards. ESG is vital for business viability, revenue, and for meeting finance standards. The key points included the importance of measuring metrics for effective management processes and of using ESG reporting to demonstrate business drivers.

Next, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) was explained in terms of how it sets rules for social and environmental reporting to enhance transparency, comparability, and reliability for all large EU companies. The EU’s CSRD was presented with three aspects and covers:

1. Double materiality, for recognising financial and non-financial risks and opportunities in ESG.
2. EU Taxonomy, for classifying sustainable economic activities with six environmental objectives.
3. Independent assurance, which requires limited external assurance reports on reported information.

A presentation of the UIC Sustainability Platform, which represents the rail industry’s voice and promotes sustainability through collaborative partnerships, was then delivered. Tools for adherence with with global standards and to help achieve SDGs were also shown, including:

  • Eco Passenger and Eco Transit, which compare transport mode emissions
  • Rail Sustainability index (RSi) which benchmarks railway companies’ sustainability performance
  • 2022 Global Rail Sustainability Report

The presentations are available on the new Fit for Freight website at

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