Wednesday 6 July 2022

The meetings of the EMC (European Management Committee) and the 34th RAE (Regional Assembly Europe) were held on 27 June 2022

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During the week of the mid-year statutory meetings and UIC General Assembly, the EMC and RAE meetings were held in semi-hybrid format in the morning and afternoon of 27 June respectively, bringing together the attendance of senior representatives of member companies, partner organisations and colleagues from the UIC HQ team.

Opened and moderated by Simon Fletcher, UIC Director Europe, the focus of the discussions of the EMC in the morning was on core topics such as financial issues, the European action plan, research and innovation, and publications & standardisation. In particular the meeting was pleased to hear from Jean-Pierre Farandou, President and General Director of SNCF and one of the 4 regional representatives of the UIC Executive Board. He thanked the meeting for his election to the board and said he would make every effort to strongly convey the voice of the European region.

In the afternoon, the 34th RAE was opened by Simon Fletcher who welcomed a significant number participants online and was especially delighted to welcome some 20 participants at UIC headquarters in Paris.
Francisco Cardoso dos Reis, IP and UIC Europe Chairman, delivered some opening words, praising fellow railway workers at Ukrainian railways for continuing operations in the context of the current war and stressed that it was important to remain united and firm in the support for Ukraine. In addition, he highlighted the work of the UIC Refugee Task Force for its work in supporting UIC members to tackle the challenges arising from this humanitarian crisis and thanked the UIC Director General and experts for their expertise and professionalism. In response, Roman Bilousov representing UZ (Ukrainian Railways), thanked the railway community for its help and support, both moral and tangible, and agreed that it was important for the railway community to stand together, with the support of UIC and its members.

Following the general welcome, a keynote address was delivered by Marc Philippe El Beze, Chief Technical Officer of the Rail Baltica joint venture project, the aim of which is to integrate the Baltic States into the European railway network and support the three countries (Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania) in their implementation of standards, in achieving their climate, sustainability and safety goals, in enhancing infrastructure and ensuring security interests. He described the project progress in 2022, the construction and design work in all countries and details on the contracts and procurement plans.

Under the administrative points, an adjustment was made to the regional Terms of Reference (ToRs) to integrate an element of flexibility into the process of selecting the EMC College. Due to the number of applications to the current college, it was decided to accept all candidates, and so increasing the size of the College. The proposed changes were agreed by the Assembly and will provide the future selection process with a more sensible approach.

UIC Director General François Davenne gave a debrief from the topics being considered by the UIC Board of Directors, saying that solutions had to be found to continue and preserve activities. He paid tribute to the courage of Ukrainian railway workers in the transport of goods and people in the current circumstances and felt sure that the UIC team, particularly through work of the UIC Refugee Task Force as a forum to exchange ideas among the community, was providing the right support.
With regard to activities, he said that it is important for the UIC to continue developing regional activity outside Europe so as to foster interest within and between other regions. Examples include developing intense collaboration with financial institutions such as the ADB in Asia, supporting growth within the African region. This will greatly underpin the programme that will ensure progression is made with concrete implementation projects and with setting up a precise work programme to foster the activity. Close collaboration is being undertaken with the African Union to develop a vision and a rail programme in Africa. In addition, there is activity being developed in North and South America to attract new members in those regions.
Mr Davenne talked about the collaboration with the EU Agency for Railways (ERA), the solid role of UIC in the European railway area and within the system pillar within Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking.
The technical work UIC is doing is recognised by the ERA and in the research ecosystem. Cooperation with ERA is an important topic for UIC as it will help the organisation to fulfil its role as a technical platform at European level and make it the reference for technical development for railway operations in Europe.
Mr Davenne gave feedback on the launch of the UIC centenary in May and the forthcoming publication of the Manifesto, another deliverable which will help streamline all activities towards the 2030 Vision, which members are invited to share and use to inspire and promote the railways and their critical role in a carbon-neutral future. UIC will contribute by continuing its work in key areas such as multimodality, 5G, digital platform for freight, ticketing (OSDM), system vision, digital modelling, and signalling.
Finally, Mr Davenne mentioned the latest member satisfaction survey, saying that the results were more positive compared to the previous results, thus showing that UIC is dedicated to delivering concrete value for its members.

Regarding financial issues, Aline Wego, Head of the UIC Project Management Office (PMO), presented the accounts for 2021, the financial situation as of June 2022 and the budgetary planning for 2023 and 2024 with several scenarios. The Assembly approved the closure of the 2021 accounts.

With regard to the European action plan, Simon Fletcher described the Regional Focus and Action Plan for 2022 – 2023, the headlines falling in line with the vision that has been published by UIC and also in line with the Manifesto that is about to be published. UIC’s Team Europe has been leading work in several key areas, notably standardisation and innovation, against a backdrop of communicating what is going on and evolving core topics in the European Region. Actions include promoting global sustainability and the implementation of the new vision of the railways to respond to the Green Deal strategy.
Under this point there was a focus on sustainability, where Jo Lewington, Chief Environment and Sustainability Officer, on behalf of Martin Frobisher, Vice-Chairman, gave a presentation on alternative energies that are being developed at Network Rail, looking at hydrogen as an alternative means of traction, considering new solutions towards zero carbon such as battery and hydrogen, removing reliance on fossil fuels, and focus on electrification. As a direct result of this, an ad hoc Task Force is to be established to provide a focal point for the development of alternative energy sources.

In the context of the series of High-Level Exchange meetings (HLEM) with members (which are set to continue in the future), Krzysztof Skrobich from the PKP representative office in Brussels, then gave feedback on the meeting that had taken place in Warsaw in April. He highlighted the findings of a PKP survey that had been undertakne in advance of the HLEM and focussed on the strong and weak points and areas for improvement which would lead to improving cooperation between UIC and PKP. Following his address, his proposal was to launch a similar survey to all members of the Europe Region to maximise the benefits of this cooperation.

In the area of Research & Innovation, Christian Chavanel, UIC Rail System Director, gave an update on Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking and UIC’s involvement in the state-of-the-art process and the role UIC is expected to play in the system pillar. This was followed by a presentation from Roland Moser, SBB and Chair of ERRAC, on the European Technology Platform for rail, which endeavours to represent all rail stakeholders, giving details of its background, governance and structure, and the current work in progress.

With regard to the UIC Special Groups, the focus was given to Raildata, the aim of which is to achieve a seamless connection of all railway undertakings in the rail chain. A summary was given of its members, users and partners, its asset base, and details of its roadmap to improve rail operation and ensure that the most is made of its existing data. Sandra Géhénot, UIC Freight Director, added that Raildata is part of a legacy of UIC tools such as Hermes messages and that the need for a platform is necessary, particularly in order to establish the DAC (Digital Automatic Coupling), which aims to increase capacity, productivity and quality – crucial for a more efficient and modern rail freight system.

Simon Fletcher gave the mid-year report on the activities of the Standardisation Unit, with details of its work programme during 2021, where 50 IRSs were published, with the objective this year of publishing 45 IRSs (EN versions) – a figure which may even be exceeded. In addition, he said that the online shop, which is the portal through which the UIC railway technical publications are accessed, is getting a makeover to better respond to the needs of UIC members and its customers.
Within this activity a brief report was then delivered by Laurent Schmitt, SNCF and Chair of both the Standardisation Platform and ESMG, on the European Standards Management Group (ESMG), on the evolving standardisation landscape and how to revitalise and reshape the ESMG activities.

Regarding Sustainable Development, Lucie Anderton gave feedback on the expansion of the European ESRS (Environmental Strategy Reporting System) to encompass a global reach. The ESRS database is managed by the UIC Energy Expert Network, which is committed to publishing information on progress against the targets set by international organisations and coalitions using the data collected via the Environment Strategy Reporting System (ESRS) and CO2 database, with the aim of improving the rail sector’s environmental performance by 2030 and 2050. Lucy Anderton also mentioned collaboration with Google on more sustainable travel and invited the assembly to agree on a Google data license agreement.

Regarding membership issues, Simon Fletcher announced two applications for membership: ERC. D GmbH, from Germany, and Ermewa, from France. The assembly approved the applications for membership which would then be submitted to the 100th General Assembly on 29 June.

To conclude, Simon Fletcher announced that the 35th European Regional Assembly would take place in hybrid mode on 6 December with the EMC in the morning and that the UIC Executive Board and 101st General Assembly would take place on 7 and 8 December 2022.
The next EMC meeting will take place on 19 September in Berlin, just before the Innotrans trade fair which is scheduled to be held from 20 – 23 September.

François Davenne thanked the Chairman and meeting for the constructive discussion and reiterated some of the interesting points to be followed up such as integrating the evaluation of projects into the
quality management process and obtaining the agreement for the Google data license agreement.

Francisco Cardoso dos Reis thanked all those within the Europe Region for their involvement and commitment and hoped that the next meeting would take place in a more peaceful context.

The Vision 2030 document can be viewed here:
https://uic.org/IMG/pdf/uic-design-a-better-future-vision-of-rail-2030.pdf

For further information about the European region and the work it undertakes, please contact Simon Fletcher, UIC Director Europe: fletcher@uic.org
Or europe@uic.org

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