Tuesday 5 April 2022

The 4th UIC Refugee Task force meeting held on 31 March

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The 4th UIC Refugee Task force meeting was attended remotely on 31 March 2022 by almost 60 participants from across Europe, with representatives from UIC member railways and partner organisations.

Marc Guigon, UIC Passenger Director, Coordinator Middle-East and Latin American Regions, Coordinator of UIC Refugee and Covid-19 Task Forceswelcomed the participants.

Vanessa Pérez Miranda, Senior Passenger Advisor and member of the Refugee Task Force core team, presented an overview of the situation and the new UIC website to put value and bring together the information for refugees shared by each member in their official channels.

David Sarfatti, UIC Senior Advisor, IT Experts, shared a first proposal for the members to facilitate the travel of refugees through Europe with a digital solidarity ticket for a limited time based on an existing Interrail solution to avoid surcharge and fraud.

Philippe Van Der Bosch, UIC Senior Freight Advisor, gave an overview of the Asian-Europe corridor issue. UIC’s role is to provide better insights to the Members on the impact of the war on freight business, through a survey. The Northern corridor going through Russia, how will alternative routes will be developed ?

The UIC Executive Board will organise a high-level meeting next week in Warsaw with PKP. This will be the occasion to visit the station to better understand and learn from the situation in Poland.

A round table and series of presentations then followed to discuss the current situation per impacted country and company. This included updates from:

Ukraine, shared a letter of Ukrainian railways calling on investors and partners to provide financial support to the company (for evacuation, shelters & workers support), together with a list of technical materials and equipment’s necessary for ensuring the functioning of JSC. UZ.

Poland, with a new system in place: free ticket from PKP Intercity available for women children, people with disability and people over 60. Indeed, 2,323,000 people have fled to Poland on 4 million people, 300 000 came by train, but this week the flow of refugees has decreased a lot, with less congestion.

Romania, offering free travel for Regio and Interregio trains without restriction to ensure the best mobility possible for refugees, and jointly operating trains thanks to great cooperation with Mav Start, ÖBB, CFM and BDZ. Indeed, CFR Calatori increased the number of international desks all over Romania, special trains and coaches are coming from the Republic of Moldavia, leaflets are distributed to refugees to help them continue travelling, special rooms and tents are provided, etc.

UITP, the International Association of Public Transport, who presented its current activity on the website gathering and sharing examples of public transport networks helping refugees. A Position Paper from the EU Committee based on the energy crisis, public transport being part of the solution.

In addition, short updates and summaries were given by member representatives from, among others: SNCF, CD, CP, FS, RENFE, SJ, SBB, DB, NS. The general feeling was that the situation in all of these countries is calm and controlled without any major security concern apart from the cybersecurity risk that is particularly monitored (especially for freight) along with the risk of fraud and human trafficking recalled by several Members.

In conclusion, the number of refugees has decreased significantly but the railway companies found them in greater need and has begun watching the possible drifts arising.

Members are encouraged to share their thoughts, either by writing to the internal UIC Task Force Refugee team or by posting in the UIC Extranet at this link: https://extranet.uic.org/en

A Task Force LinkedIn group is open to members. Feel free to join the group and share your thoughts: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/14061600/

The next Task Force Refugee web-conference is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 6 April 2022 in hybrid from Warsaw.

For any further questions or proposals for contributions to these Task Force meetings, please email: refugees@uic.org

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