Friday 3 March 2023

The 12th International Railway Summit calls for innovation to fuel sustainable growth

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Salvini pledges to invest in rail projects

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Creating a bright future for rail, built on sustainable innovation, multimodal collaboration, and a social conscience, was the central focus at the 12th International Railway Summit in Rome, Italy, which ran from 21-23 February 2023.

Rail decision-makers and expert innovators from around the world gathered at the Sheraton Parco de’ Medici Hotel to meet and share experiences. Delegates took part in special one-to-one meetings and attended a two-day conference delivered by some of the most senior figures in mobility.

Simon Fletcher, Former Director for the European Region at UIC, chaired the conference which saw valuable contributions, including presentations from François Davenne, UIC Director General, and Vanessa Perez, Senior Advisor of the UIC Passenger Department. UIC has been supporting the IRITS Events hosted summit, since its 4th edition in 2017.

Deputy Prime Minister Salvini: Italy will invest heavily in rail

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, opened the conference with the special keynote speech on ‘Investing in the future: rail at the heart of sustainable mobility’. In this he set forth his vision for ambitious projects to connect Palermo with Berlin via the proposed Messina Bridge from Sicily to mainland Italy, the Brenner Base Tunnel between Italy and Austria, and the Turin-Lyon high-speed line.

Echoing the conference theme ‘Innovation powering sustainable growth through challenging times’, Salvini stated that 70% of his ministry’s resources were being used for digital and green transformation.

Multimodal collaboration

Luigi Ferraris, CEO of FS Italiane, described how rail could be the backbone of seamless door-to-door transport, and the heart of a multimodal system. Davenne shared a video message with the conference emphasising how the concept of seamless transport was ‘absolutely fundamental’ to UIC, and an inspiring plenary debate, moderated by Fletcher, examined how the different modes of transport could work more closely together to enable seamless door-to-door mobility. The audience also heard from the CEOs of the Rail Cargo Group and Berlin Transport Company (BVG), Clemens Först and Eva Kreienkamp, as well as from Air France and the International Road Transport Union.

The vital and life-changing role of the railways

Easy travel for those with reduced mobility took centre stage with Perez giving a general overview of how passenger railways are helping the public.

Another exciting session, again moderated by Fletcher, discussed the role of the railway community during a humanitarian crisis, which Oleksander Pertsovskyi, head of the Ukrainian Railways’ Passenger Rail operations, joined via live video link.

Learning about railways in Italy

On the first afternoon of the summit, delegates took part in a technical visit to Rome’s Termini station thanks to FS Italiane, and another took place in a driver’s cab during a high-speed train journey to Naples, courtesy of Italo.

In the evening, during the welcome dinner at the hotel, Eugenio Patanè, Rome’s Deputy Mayor for Mobility, presented Rome’s ambitious plans for sustainable mobility.

Networking – building partnerships and making friends

The summit was an opportunity to forge partnerships with one-to-one meetings matching the project requirements of operators and infrastructure managers with government and expert solutions.

The 13th International Railway Summit, organised with UIC, will take place in Paris on 20-22 February 2024.

(Source: IRITS)

For more information: please contact Stephen Russell-Gebbett at

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