Wednesday 3 July 2024

UIC 104th General Assembly held in Lisbon

A newly elected Chair, a review of 2024’s achievements so far and future plans emphasising a strong assessment of UIC’s added value

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The UIC 104th General Assembly was held in Lisbon at the kind invitation of Comboios de Portugal (CP), the Portuguese railway undertaking. Dr Pedro Duarte Silva, on behalf of Secretary of State for Mobility of Portugal, Cristina Pinto Dias, highlighted the importance of UIC’s role in developing a safe, efficient, and sustainable global railway system. He also emphasised Portugal’s commitment to revitalising the railway sector, focusing on shifting from individual to public transport and achieving decarbonisation goals, with some of their key investments including building a new high-speed network, modernising international corridors, and acquiring new urban, interregional, and high-speed trains. He underscored the potential for growth in freight railway transport and the importance of having international cooperation when tackling challenges within the industry as well as expressing her confidence that the UIC General Assembly’s collective efforts would strengthen the railway sector and increase public transport usage.

The Assembly itself addressed governance, financial, and strategic issues, reflecting UIC’s ongoing commitment to enhancing global rail transport.

Election of the UIC Chair
Dr Alan Beroud was unanimously elected as UIC Chair and will serve for the remainder of the PKP mandate until 31 December 2025. President of the Management Board & CEO of PKP, and Chair-Elect of UIC, he expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to chair UIC, emphasising his commitment to continuing PKP’s effective leadership.

The Chair’s vision and priorities
Dr Beroud’s vision for UIC centres on fostering solidarity, unity, and partnership among its members. He outlined key priorities for his term, beginning with the successful implementation of the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS), the 5G successor of GSM-R, to facilitate the digitalisation of the railway sector. Additionally, he aims to drive the adoption of Open Sales and Distribution Model (OSDM) to revolutionise rail distribution and create versatile, multi-carrier systems. Dr Beroud stated that he places a significant emphasis on research and development, aiming to bolster relationships between academic institutions and railway experts to spearhead innovative projects, with another critical goal being to strengthen interregional cooperation in order to achieve comprehensive railway development objectives. Finally, sustainability is a cornerstone of his agenda, advocating for railways to play a pivotal role in decarbonising transport and promoting sustainable mobility solutions globally.

Additionally, Dr Beroud reaffirmed his dedication to leveraging his extensive experience in strategic programme management to further UIC’s goals and drive positive change within the organisation.

Dr Alan Beroud was appointed by the Minister of Infrastructure of the Republic of Poland as the President of the Management Board and CEO of the Polish State Railways (PKP S.A.) and the head of the PKP Group from 29 March 2024. Dr Beroud is an accomplished manager with extensive experience, particularly in the railway industry. From 2019 onwards, he served as the President of the Management Board of the railway undertaking SKM, where he implemented key programmes to increase the energy efficiency of vehicles and railway infrastructure. Dr Beroud also has a broad range of experience in railway investment projects and strategic project management in the fields of railways, construction, and energy, having overseen and executed relevant international projects for global markets. He graduated in law from the University of Warsaw and in energy engineering from the Silesian University of Technology. He holds a PhD degree from the Institute of Security and Computer Science at the University of Krakow, an EMBA title for the energy sector (University of Gdańsk in cooperation with Aix En Provence), and a Master of Project Management from George Washington University in the USA. He has also completed additional training courses at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Tsinghua University.

Mid-year report
Presented by François Davenne, UIC Director General, the 2024 achievement and future plans review emphasised how solidly UIC’s added value is viewed. UIC has achieved notable milestones in recent months, highlighting its commitment to advancing global railway initiatives. The successful promotion of the “More Trains” campaign, including the presentation of the study “Bridging the Rail Finance Gap: Challenges and Opportunities for Low and Lower-Middle Income Countries” at Transforming Transportation 2024 in Washington, underscores its proactive approach to addressing critical industry challenges. Moreover, interest in UIC is ever increasing, with three new members joining and a partnership with ARTF being renewed, the Mexican railway authority, reaffirming its expanding global influence.

In an effort to enhance operational transparency and efficiency, UIC has implemented a new consolidated presentation of its profit and loss statement, alongside an advanced online tool for managing the Opt-in Project process. These initiatives aim to foster greater clarity and accessibility in financial management and project oversight. Furthermore, UIC has maintained a balanced budget for 2023, surpassing projected targets, a testament to its robust fiscal stewardship and strategic planning.

Member satisfaction remains stable while its organisational dynamism continues to drive innovation and operational excellence across its global initiatives. These achievements reflect UIC’s steadfast dedication to advancing the railway sector’s sustainability and efficiency goals on a global scale, as well as to meeting stakeholder expectations.

Recognition of UIC’s added value
UIC has demonstrated its commitment to advancing global railway standards and innovation. Some of the highlights include the timely delivery of the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) V2 drafts to the European Union Agency for Railways and the successful coordination of the European bid for the MObile Radio for RAilways Networks in Europe (MORANE 2) testing programme. By the end of 2024, European tests on five lines will commence, showcasing UIC’s proactive approach in the rail sector. Crucial contributions to Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking underline UIC’s leadership in system architecture, digital modelling, and safety operations. Moreover, UIC has expanded its influence through intensified standardisation efforts, notably in the Asia-Pacific Region, and made progress with the Open Sales and Distribution Model (OSDM) data model in partnership with the Community of European Railways and Infrastructure Managers (CER). Additionally, UIC’s global impact is evident in the successful organisation of the UIC digital conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon, promoting digital transformation across Africa. Looking ahead, preparations being underway for the UIC World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Beijing, China, in July 2025 underscore UIC’s role as a key hub for technical progress and collaborative partnerships in the railway sector.

Regional empowerment
UIC is actively promoting regional empowerment by establishing Regional Competence Hubs and strategic partnerships with organisations such as the African Union (AU) and the African Development Bank (ADB). These efforts are designed to promote innovation and meet UIC member needs across various regions, with clear project roadmaps being developed to guide the implementation of these regional projects.

UIC’s global agenda
The Standardisation Platform is finalising its migration process and will present a comprehensive document at the upcoming General Assembly in December, alongside plans to enhance future standardisation processes. The UN Climate Change Conference (COP29) preparations include outlining initiatives on the Transport and Energy Nexus and the Avoid and Shift strategies, which aim to double low emission modes of transport by 2030, with SLOCAT’s support. Following a study on carbon finance, UIC is developing guidelines to ensure railways benefit from initiatives such as the Loss and Damage Fund, in addition to partnering with Zeroca to publish initial guidelines on carbon credits.

The 2023 financial results were approved, showing a balanced budget. The General Assembly endorsed any slight deficit to be allocated to “retained earnings” and reviewed the mid-year financial forecast and preliminary budget for 2025.

Membership updates
The new members were welcomed, including the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) and the Rail Technology Research and Development Agency (RTRDA) of Thailand, with changes in membership categories also being approved, reflecting the evolving activities and operations of member organisations.

The next General Assembly is scheduled for 13 December 2024 in Paris.

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