Wednesday 14 June 2023

The Fit for Freight Spring Days are a success

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Following the Fit for Freight Month held in November 2022, four webinars dedicated to dangerous goods, corridor development, combined transport and exceptional consignments were held between 30 May and 6 June to explain how UIC’s work contributes to benefitting the rail sector. Approximately 80 participants registered for each of them, showing a growing interest in these events.

The first webinar, on dangerous goods, was held on 30 May. Jochen Conrad from OTIF (the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail) introduced the extensive legal framework that governs the transport of dangerous goods (by rail, road and inland waterways), the basic characteristics of dangerous goods, and how the United Nations’, OTIF’s and the transport industry’s work to keep the regulations up-to-date is organised year by year. With expert knowledge from Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Expert Group Chair Ralf Redeker of DB Cargo, the audience dived into the responsibilities of railway companies, the practical application of the rules and the difficulties that go with this. Afterwards, UIC’s broader role in the transport of dangerous goods was explained by UIC Freight Advisor, Joost Overdijkink, with numerous questions being answered, such as which regulations govern the transport of lithium batteries (such as those used in electric vehicles).

During the second webinar dedicated to corridor development in Europe held on 31 May,
Overdijkink introduced freight corridors, their basics, and the TEN-T regulation. He outlined the corridor tools that the European Union has created to boost multimodality in order to help rail become a key player in modern supply chains, and gave an overview of the legal and organisational framework that has been established. As part of this, the UIC ECCO project coordinates the positions of the railway undertakings (RUs) operating along the corridors, who are represented by eleven Railway Advisory Groups (RAG) speakers. As a cross-corridor RU platform, ECCO acts as a united RU voice, addressing operational issues with infrastructure managers, and EU Member States, and when the Railway Advisory Group speakers are invited to the EU Commission. The UIC ECCO project and its RUs constitute a lever for change in international rail freight. Concrete examples of how RUs can influence future cross-border mega projects, including the Brenner and Fehmarnbelt tunnels, were presented by Andrea M. Penso from DB Cargo, while Martin Erlinger from the Rail Cargo Group explained how RUs can drive quality improvements in the border crossings at Passau and Curtici.

The language initiatives undertaken by UIC were presented by Parinaz Bazeghi, UIC Senior Freight Advisor, including the European Translate4Rail project and a breakdown of its key findings and achievements.

The third UIC Fit for Freight Spring Day, on combined transport, was held on 5 June. After a short introduction on the Fit for Freight Days given by Martin Polák, UIC Freight Senior Advisor, Philip van den Bosch, UIC Freight Deputy Director, presented combined transport (CT) as an integral part of railway operations. He explained the intermodal and combined transport chain, giving facts and figures for CT which highlighted the growth of intermodal transport (over 50%), as well as discussing digitalisation in CT.

A panel discussion dedicated to the regulatory framework gave Lukasz Wyrowski, UNECE Working Party on Regulatory Cooperation and Standardisation Policies (WP6), the opportunity to introduce UNECE’s role in facilitating policy dialogue, supporting the development of technology and making transport safe, efficient and sustainable. Guillaume Murawa, International Rail Transport Committee (CIT), introduced CIT’s task in helping to implement international transport law and to create legal protection to support CT business. Patrizio Grillo, UIC, spoke about European legislation and initiatives, including the Greening Freight Package and CT Directive. Van den Bosch then gave an overview of the UIC CT Special Group, its organisation, and UIC’s solutions for its members and subsequently gave the floor to Eric Lambert, UIC, who gave a presentation on the CACTUS project with comparative analysis of CT usage and standards, and on the ZEFES project regarding analysis of different vehicles to define the #zeroemissions vehicle of the future.

Van den Bosch presented an ongoing project on direct waterborne-rail transshipment, whose results will be presented later on this year.

The 4th webinar, discussing exceptional consignments, was held on 6 June, with Paulo Lira de Freitas, UIC Senior Freight Advisor, introducing the topic, the classification of unusual goods carriage depending on the dimensions, weight or characteristics, and the in-depth knowledge required for exceptional transport, as well as giving a presentation on the UIC “Exceptional Consignments” working group itself.

Sandra Balting, Chair of the UIC “Exceptional Consignments” working group, DB Cargo, gave an overview of the topic, and went into further detail with an example concerning exceptional consignments of military transports, explaining the different infrastructure manager (IM) & railway undertaking (RU) tasks, the customer application process and the application for approval, which will be submitted by the dispatching RU. She explained that the 1st RU is responsible for coordinating the entire approval process and the relevant information would be sent to the IM and all RUs involved. She also added that the situation with military traffic is extemely complex, and that it is important to take the different elements into account, in order to receive approvals within short notice.

In the second section, she discussed the next topics and challenges which their working group is working on, dealing with:

  • Vehicles without “authorisation to place in service”
  • The compilation and harmonisation of national requirements (stating that it is difficult to have a harmonised and standardised procedure, but that they are attempting to introduce a minimum requirement)
  • Simplifying the process for IMs and RUs

De Freitas the highlighted the importance of IRSs and the work carried out by the working group.

For further information, please contact Philip Van den bosch, UIC Deputy Director Freight, at

or Martin Polák, Freight Advisor and RFF PMO at

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Dangerous Goods
Corridor Development
Combined Transport
Exceptional Consignments