Tuesday 21 July 2020

UIC chairs IRS webinar on sustainable and connected Rail Baltica

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Key strategists from the €5.8bn Rail Baltica project and leading policymakers from the rail regulatory, innovation and supply communities took part in the webinar ‘A sustainable and connected Rail Baltica’ on 16 July 2020. The webinar was produced by the International Railway Summit in association with Rail Baltica.

Simon Fletcher, UIC’s Director Europe, chaired the debate, which included questions from an audience comprising industry experts from 41 different countries.

Rail Baltica is slated to begin operation in 2026 and is in the advanced design phase. The 870km network will integrate the Baltic region, which currently operates on the Russian gauge, with the standard gauge that covers the majority of the EU’s rail network.

Andy Billington, Rail Baltica’s Innovation and Sustainability Manager, set out the strategies for achieving an economically and environmentally sustainable rail network. Jean-Marc Bedmar, Rail Baltica’s Head of Systems and Operation, later provided updated design and deployment timelines, and details of procurement guidelines within the field of subsystems, including signalling, train control and energy.

Participating speakers agreed that Rail Baltica could be a vibrant new economic corridor. Rail Baltica’s ‘dig once’ simultaneous development strategy means as the railway is installed, so will other networks, including internet communications, energy, and utilities. Philippe Citroën, Director General of the Association of the European Rail Industry (UNIFE), reaffirmed the association’s support for Rail Baltica as “one the most important projects of the coming years”. Pio Guido, Head of Railway Systems Unit at the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA), said Rail Baltica was a key part of the Single European Railway Area. Julianna Moats, Principal Engineer at engineering consultancy WSP saw Rail Baltica as “different from any other railway in the world… so we need to design it differently".

Speakers agreed that flexible modular architecture in the project’s systems would mean it could be easily upgraded and updated. Openly sharing ideas and data across modes and sectors was highlighted.

Mr Billington emphasised Rail Baltica’s target of zero impact operations. The size of this challenge was demonstrated by Fernando Liesa, the Secretary General of the Alliance for Logistics Innovation through Collaboration in Europe (ALICE). He showed that even sustaining the Covid-19 rate of CO2 reduction would not fulfil the 2030 emissions target.

‘A sustainable and connected Rail Baltica’ was Part 2 of the two-part webinar series ‘Rail Baltica: opportunities in Europe’s latest megaproject’.
Both parts are now available free to view on-demand at the International Railway Summit website: https://www.irits.org/rail-webinars.

For more information: please contact Anuja Raut, IRITS Events at anuja.raut@irits.org

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