Wednesday 14 December 2022

The 6th UIC World Congress on Rail Training (WCRT) successfully held at UIC headquarters

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The 6th edition of the WCRT was organised by the UIC, and was held from 30 November to 2 December at UIC Headquarters, in partnership with SNCF, FS and DB and was sponsored by Alstom. For the first time since its inception in 2011, the event was hybrid and attended both in-person in Paris and remotely.

The congress brought together more than 200 participants from over 27 countries around the world, representing more than 50 railway undertakings, universities and engineering schools. Organising the WCRT congress was initiated by the UIC Expertise Development Platform, which takes its knowledge from the regional Rail Training Centre Networks, and its main purpose is to enhance workforce development through sharing best practices in rail training across the entire industry. The congress is a very successful event with many participants returning every year.

Meryem Belhaj-Clot, Deputy HR Director and Head of HR Development, opened the congress and welcomed all the participants present on-site and online.

The event was a unique opportunity for railway HR departments and training professionals to get together and discuss current issues in their field and for the 3 days focused on major subject issues for railways such as:

  • Responding to Covid-19
  • Innovation & technology
  • Training simulators and virtual reality
  • International and national frameworks for training and education
  • HR training lifecycles
  • Gamification
  • Future skills strategies in an international framework
  • Learning technology
  • Sustainable management of skills and human resources

Keynote opening speeches were given by François Davenne, UIC Director General, Miguel Mesquita Faro Viana, UIC Chair of the Talent and Expertise Development Platform from Infraestructuras de Portugal (IP), Marc Guigon, UIC Passenger Director, and Christoph Hieber, Senior Director of Deloitte.

François Davenne welcomed the participants and highlighted the fact that: “This event comes just after COP27, which was held in Egypt. When looking at climate change, the railway is the most environmentally friendly form of transport. It is one of the major solutions for reducing CO2 emissions and therefore fulfilling the commitments made in the Paris Agreement (2015). One of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 4) is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Training, education, and workforce development have a key role to play in supporting and anticipating future changes and challenges in the rail sector.

He emphasised the need to rethink learning strategies to develop the skills of staff, to attract the talent of the future, and to integrate more digital services which will improve the performance, quality and durability of systems. He mentioned the need to link technology and infrastructure, as how capacity on existing infrastructure can be increased in the future will be key.

He also emphasised that training will be a strategic priority for UIC.

Miguel Mesquita Faro Viana, then took the floor and stated: “I would first like to acknowledge the authors’ patience and flexibility regarding the schedule changes and for having to work and review their papers several times over the 2-year process. Thanks also to all the presenters, including the keynote speakers.
Secondly, I would like to thank the sponsors and partners for backing the congress via their financial support and making the whole event possible.

Thirdly, thank you to the Hackathon regional team members, the regional organisers and project mentors, whose work allowed us to bring young talent, new blood, innovation and creativity to the event. I’m sure all the participants are proud of themselves. There are no winners and losers. We all won.

Next, I would like to give a special word of appreciation to the Steering Committee colleagues from DB, SNCF, FS, the Rail Centre from the Netherlands, and Rail Training International from the UK for ten years of close cooperation, sharing, learning together, and important achievements for our cause and mission.

Finally, I have to acknowledge the outstanding effort that the UIC personnel has put into organising the congress, as it usually takes 1.5 to 2 years to accomplish this, but this time it was planned in 9 months, with a very tight budget and few resources. Thank you, François Davenne for making this possible within UIC. Thank you UIC colleagues and I would especially like to extend my appreciation to the HR Development Team for being the real heart and soul of the congress.

Marc Guigon, UIC Passenger Director, gave a presentation on the UIC Covid-19 Task Force which was set up at the beginning of the pandemic and provided solutions and measures to restore confidence in rail travel throughout the crisis through various tools, guidelines, global meetings and conferences.

Christoph Hieber, from Deloitte, discussed HR and Global Trends, the future of training and development, and how it can help the transformation of organisations and the workforce, especially in regard to a skills-based approach.

The keynote speech was followed by the TrainRail Hackathon Awards. The global TrainRail Hackathon was launched by UIC as part of a series of measures to increase the railway’s appeal, aimed at universities and railway undertakings.

Ling Xin, Deputy Dean of the Tianyou Railway Institute from Southwest Jiaotong University first introduced the awards and affirmed the importance of the 1st edition’s theme “How can railways be resilient in the face of pandemics?”. She emphasised that the TrainRail Hackathon was the result of multiregional collaboration between universities, railway undertakings, and corporate training centres from the Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Middle Eastern regions.

Meryem Belhaj-Clot recognised the groups’ performance and voiced her appreciation for the regions’ support, and then announced the winning teams and awarded the prizes to the winners alongside François Davenne and Miguel Mesquita Faro Viana.

1st prize: African region - Intelligent passenger flow management system - Yasser Haddam, Rachid Laroussi el Alami, Anass Mandour, Chaïmae Toubali, Aurel V.J Youbi Mibambo

2nd prize: Asia-Pacific region - Railway Foldable Container - Keyi Li, Ruifan Luo, Yue Feng, Yuqing Zhang, Danyu Wang

3rd prize: European region - Monarch System - Train, Station and Infrastructure Automatic Safety & Cleaning System - Fabiano Fumagalli, Cristiano Majorca

Highly commended: Asia-Pacific region Virtual Railway Ecological Solution - Muhua Zhang, Zixuan Wu, Yujia Ma, Yue Gu, Qing Peng, Syed Waqar Hussain Shah

Following the TrainRail Hackathon Award, the representatives of WCRT 2022 congress partners from DB, FS and SNCF, delivered their presentations.

Anne Chaminade, Director of Training, Skills and Professions at the SNCF HRD, stated that over the last few years, SNCF has been addressing the challenges of how to develop their employees’ skills. She underlined that training is, now more than ever, at the heart of industry challenges to rebalance investments in both initial and continued training, as well as to provide the right training at the right time in the career path. She pointed out that professions have changed with digital training content becoming the norm, and new programmes needed to meet new challenges, increased recruitment, and individualised development paths.

Melanie Krüger, Head of Strategic Human Resources Development and Junior Staff Principles, HDN at DB presented DB’s 3 main services: passenger transport, infrastructure, and transport and logistics, as well as introducing the breadth of DB’s employment and training. She underlined that through its “Chance Plus” programme, DB helps around 200 interns launch their careers at the company each year. Under the slogan “People. Passion. Future”, DB is offering more digital and innovative learning offers. Krüger concluded by listing DB’s successes over the past years.

Roberta Rizzo, Head of International HR at FS, gave a presentation on three aspects of FS’ people strategy: FS people, the way of working, and building for the future. Rizzo discussed how FS provides a unique opportunity to foster talent and innovation, creating more chances to share best practices and build-up constructive networks. She shared important achievements for FS abroad, including a site visit to the Frecciarossa 1000 Train at the Gare de Lyon in Paris, to celebrate the 1st anniversary of its operation as well as one week of Iryo operations in Spain.

During the coffee breaks, the participants were able to take advantage of the stands as SNCF and Alstom had set up simulators (virtual reality and driving simulators).

The morning session continued with presentations on:

  • Responding to Covid-19 by Karim Chennouf, IFF, Morocco, and XIN Ling, Southwest Jiaotong University, China
  • Innovation and Technologies, by Nicolas Renoir, SNCF, and Pierre Gibbe, Université de l’Ingénierie (UDI) SNCF, France, and Anjum Naweed, CQUniversity, Australia

In the afternoon of 30 November, six technical visits were organised and hosted by SNCF (SNCF Réseau, SNCF Voyageurs, SNCF Gares & Connexion) and Trenitalia France (Frecciarossa 1000 high-speed train):

  • Centralised Network Control & Nexteo – SNCF Réseau CCU & Nexteo, Pantin
  • A Rolling Stock Maintenance Centre – Technicentre le Landy, Saint-Denis
  • SNCF driving simulators – Centre de Formation Traction, Saint-Denis
  • The Training Centre for Suburban Rail professions – Université Transilien, Saint-Denis
  • The Gare de Lyon station & Clock Tower – Gare de Lyon
  • Frecciarossa 1000 – Trenitalia France – Gare de Lyon

The participants were delighted by the technical visits and the welcome given by the training centres and the quality of the training provided.

On Thursday 1 December, 30 different presentations were given by speakers on some of the following themes:

  • Training Simulators and Virtual Reality by Agnès Lefèvre and Stella Duvenci-Langa from SNCF, Dr. Reza Sharifi from RAI, Marjolein Kouwenhoven and Anouk Pouwels from NS, and Stephen McNabb from Alstom
  • International and national structures for training and education, delivered in two sessions.
    • Session 1 by Michael Lehmann and Elena Queck from the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, Doreen Christmann from DB, Christophe Martin from IFF, and Simon Söser from TU Braunschweig, Germany
    • Session 2 by Valerio Sabatini and Barbara Carpenito from Mercitalia FS Group, Italy, Sultan Al Sultan and Safwan Hansrot from SRP, Saudi Arabia, Karine Mary-Odelot from SNCF, and Theresa Wildt and Christian Dorn from DB
  • Future skills strategy in an international framework by Angela Di Febbraro from the University of Genoa, Italy, Matthias Rohrmann from DB, Patricia Nieto Esteban from Université de l’Ingénierie (UDI) SNCF, and Marin Marinov from Aston University, UK
  • HR Training Lifecycles by Heiko Scholz from DB, Alain Le Goff from SNCF, Catherine Delisle from SNCF, and Pierre Gibbe from Université de l’Ingénierie (UDI) SNCF
  • Learning Technology by Xue Rui from the China Academy of Railway Sciences (CARS), Javier Sánchez from ADIF, Franz Reisinger from DB, and Frank Michelberger from St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences
  • Gamification by Magedalena Kaczmarska and Agnieszka Zebrowska from PKP, Francesca Mocetti and Susanna Pantani from RFI, and Laure Bouvry from SNCF
  • Virtual Learning Environments by Merve Ersoy from the University of Birmingham, Loic Nasica-Renard from Alstom, and François Gilson from Transurb

A gala dinner was organised at the end of the day at Le Train Bleu, an iconic restaurant in the Gare de Lyon. It is an establishment filled with history and the atmosphere allowed time to fly by with all of the participants enjoying themselves immensely.

The final day, Friday 2 December, was dedicated to sustainable development.

With the theme “Towards a sustainable management of skills and human resources”, presentations were delivered by Florence Magnin-Lot from SNCF, Vittorio Gaetano from Trenitalia, and Stéphanie Guerin from SNCF.

The keynote speeches further developed ideas regarding sustainability.

Serge Ravet, President of Reconnaître, gave a presentation on the REPAIR project which aims to utilise the power of Open Badges to help emerging practices support the visibility of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Lucie Anderton, UIC Head of the Sustainability Unit, gave a presentation on future skills for sustainable railways, starting with the question “What three skills are the most important for the future?” and invited the audience to share their thoughts on it.

She quoted a statement from MoreTrains, saying that “rail use must grow by 40% by 2030”, and discussed MoreTrains 4 main development areas:

  • Transforming cities and communities
  • Energy, technology and innovation
  • Intermodality and seamless connection
  • Customer experience

After the speakers’ presentations and their active interactions with the audience, Miguel Mesquita Faro Viana closed the congress with the hope that everyone in attendance felt more “united, inspired and connected”, having learned from COVID, from young people, from experts, from training and talent, but also from each other, and thereby strengthening human connections.

He gave 3 axes to focus on for the next year:

  • The TEDP expertise and services portfolio, enlarging the scope and expertise of products and services provided
  • Thinking and acting globally, stopping the “European centric” approach, and further engaging the other 4 global regions
  • Governance: aligning with UIC statutes and regulations, with new structure, new processes and new people on board and collaborating with the other UIC platforms

Finally Meryem Belhaj-Clot again took to the floor and thanked the participants on-site and online for the passionate exchanging of views during the 3-day congress, the steering committee and the UIC teams (HR development team, communication team, technical team, interpreters, etc.) for their hard work.

She added that a call for candidates for the next WCRT congress would be launched in the near future and wished everyone a safe journey home, and hoped to see them all at the next UIC training event.

For further information, please contact Meryem Belhaj-Clot, Deputy HR Director and Head of HR Development at: belhaj-clot@uic.org or Yuke Li at li@uic.org

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Congress opening
Congress partners
Parallel sessions - List room
Steering Committee
Congress audience
Congress Q&A
Coffee breaks with simulators
Technical visit: Freccia Rossa 1000 - Trenitalia France, Gare de Lyon
Technical visit: Gare de Lyon station & the Clock Tower - Gare de Lyon
Technical visit: Rolling stock Maintenance Centre - Technicentre le Landy, Saint-Denis
Technical visit: Centralised Network Control & Nexteo - SNCF Réseau CCU & Nexteo, Pantin
Technical visit: Training Centre for Suburban Rail professions - Université Transilien, Saint-Denis
Technical visit: SNCF Driving simulators - Centre de Formation Traction, Saint-Denis
Social event - cocktail
Hackathon regional teams
Gala Dinner, Le Train Bleu, Gare de Lyon
Group SNCF
Alstom booth
Congress closing