Friday 27 October 2023

UIC in Kuala Lumpur this week to meet members and take part in regional events

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This week, UIC is in the Asia-Pacific Region for a series of regional meetings and forums, bringing together its members, partners, and stakeholders.
The first event was the 15th High-Level Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum between 24-26 October 2023 in Kuala Lumpur, with UIC representing the voice of railways, and advocating its key role in sustainable mobility systems.
The Forum began with a pre-event dedicated to rail, the first ever Asia-Pacific Rail Summit, which was held on 23 October and jointly organised by UIC, the United Nations Centre for Regional Development, the Ministry of Transport of Malaysia, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Here, the rail and broader transport community gathered to discuss policies, the socioeconomic benefit of gender equality, the acceleration of financing and funding for rail, and the advantages of a policy implementation lab. The event was attended by high-level policymakers, experts and practitioners, including Datuk Haji Hasbi bin Habibollah, Deputy Minister of Transport of Malaysia; Dato’ Jana Santhiran Muniayan, Secretary General for Ministry of Transport of Malaysia; Dr Bandula Gunawardhana, Minister of Transport of Sri Lanka, Highways and Mass Media; and Md. Nurul Islam Sujan, Minister of Railways for Bangladesh.

The speakers and participants recognised the key role that rail plays in decarbonising transport and delivering a broader range of socio-economic benefits, with a modal shift away from higher emission-producing modes towards rail being promoted. To this end, increased levels of investment in rail should be used to back the improvement and growth of rail networks. The forward-looking policy recommendations and financing mechanisms shared in the sessions will be summarised in an upcoming eNews about the Asia Pacific Rail Summit.

On 24 October, UIC participated in the first day of the 15th High-Level Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum in Asia. It was organised by the Ministry of Transport, the Government of Malaysia, the Malaysian Ministry of Environment and Water, the Government of Japan (MoE-J), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Centre for Regional Development - Division for Sustainable Development Goals, and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The theme was: “Investing in Sustainable Transport: Catalysing Economic and Social Development in the SDG Era”.

The Malaysian Minister of Transport, Loke Siew Fook, outlined their target to increase the modal share of public transport to 40% by 2030, reaching 60% by 2050. He also highlighted Malaysia’s rail investment, including in mass rapid transit, the East Coast Rail link, and the Rapid Transit System link, which have significantly reduced transport greenhouse gas emissions.
On the subject of funding, UIC Director-General, François Davenne, emphasised that UIC was currently asking countries to honour the priorities set in their policies and to take the need to commit to reducing carbon emissions into account. Drawing on the “polluter pays” principle, he said that UIC was advocating for investment in transport infrastructure to be based on climate potential.
There is growing evidence that avoidance and transfer strategies (such as a modal shift) can reduce transport sector emissions by 40-60%, with a lower cost than improvement strategies (such as electrification). Countries, in collaboration with international financial institutions, must also make progress in defining new, more ambitious collective financing objectives, with innovative mechanisms for climate financing, in order to increase investment in climate-friendly technologies and solutions to enhance their accessibility to all.

Finally, on the same day, UIC also brought together its Asia-Pacific Region members to discuss current and future projects. The 35th General Assembly was the first Asia Pacific Regional meeting for Han Moon Hee, President & CEO of KORAIL and Chair of APRA, and Philippe Lorand, the new coordinator for the region. One of the meeting’s key highlights was the presentation of the APRA region’s strategy, along with commitment being expressed to undertake specific projects tailored to the needs of the entire region. The 36th Asia Pacific Regional Assembly will take place in Seoul, South Korea, in April 2024, as part of the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of Korail’s high-speed rail operations.

On the 2nd day of the 15th EST Forum, François Davenne participated in Plenary Session 6: Review Goal 6: Realising Sustainable, Inclusive, Economic Growth through Enhanced National Access and Connectivity.
The session was chaired by the Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media of Sri Lanka, Dr Bandula Gunawardhana, and moderated by Bronwen Thornton, CEO of the Walk21 Foundation.
Presentations were made by Mel Eden, Asian Transport Outlook, and Julia Funk, International Road Federation (IRF Global), with case studies being given on Nepal and on Malaysia. The panel experts were Lucie Anderton from UIC, Agnes Montagero from HELVETAS, and Padma Mainalee from the Ministry of Urban Development of Nepal.

Policy recommendations for road and rail highlighted which operations to prioritise in order to drive the construction of transport infrastructure, and support the creation of access and connectivity to the 38% of the Asia-Pacific population that still lack access to reliable transport.
The importance of creating the needed capability to reach the most remote communities and connect them to economic and educational opportunities through a multimodal and resilient transport system was also recognised. Different multimodal approaches were considered, including active modes of transport such as walking and cycling, together with public transport and rail systems which are complemented by road connections, and how communities may benefit the most from these.

Within this context, UIC Director-General François Davenne advocated for the role of railways, by presenting policy recommendations for the implementation of Goal 6 of the Aichi 2030 Declaration.

Joo Hyun Ha and Lucie Anderton CEnv from the UIC Sustainability Unit co-authored these recommendations, which showcase how countries can accelerate national access and connectivity in the rail sector, through:

  • Promoting a modal shift to low carbon modes of transport, such as rail
  • Setting targets for rail activity, electrification, and investment
  • Including rail in Nationally Determined Contributions (#NDCs) and long-term emissions reduction strategies
  • Addressing adaptation and resilience in rail infrastructure
  • Adopting sustainable procurement measures to reduce carbon emissions in supply chains
  • Promoting gender equality, which is a socioeconomic and environmental enabler for rail
    Anderton also participated in the panel of experts and highlighted the rail’s role in supporting the “levelling up agenda”, as it opens up education and economic development opportunities for communities, creating access that leave no one behind.

Additionally, on the same day (25 October), UIC organised a workshop on “Safety and seamless connectivity in the Asia-Pacific Region”. The workshop was opened by Davenne and Datuk Rani Hisham Samsudin, CEO of KTMB (Malayan Railways Limited). UIC gave a presentation on their general activities and passenger service work, with an emphasis on the numerous working groups giving their members’ access to all railway expertise and innovation. As KTMB wishes to develop its ticketing, the OSDM presentation sparked considerable interest. UIC also highlighted the activities to simplify travel between different European cities, as an example of seamless connectivity, especially where it is necessary to run trains through several countries.

UIC then gave a speech on “Railway safety with smart and seamless technology”, highlighting the permanent activities of the UIC Safety and Operations working groups, as well as certain dedicated projects. The Safety and Operations Division also explained UIC’s contribution to Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking, distinguishing between the system and innovation pillars. They especially focused on Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC), as an innovative component to automatically couple and decouple rolling stock.

Thanks to UIC and KTMB’s organisation, the conference was a success, with participants of the Asia-Pacific Region, including from Australia, China and Malaysia, coming together to talk about subjects such as digital platforms, multimodality, accessibility, environmental performance, and security.

For further information, please contact Philippe Lorand, UIC Director of Institutional Relations and Coordinator of the Asia Pacific Region at

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