The members of UIC TopRail met online on 27 September. The meeting was opened by Marc Guigon, Director of UIC’s Passenger Department, who shared a number of key messages regarding the General Assembly held on 8 July 2021, the UIC calendar for 2021/2022, and the chairmanship for governance of the TopRail Sector. Carles Casas, Director of Strategic and Prospective Planning at Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya, was confirmed as chair of the TopRail Sector, with a mandate up to 2023.
The meeting was attended by representatives from the railways of France, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia and Japan, as well as representatives of international associations such as Wattrain and Fedecrail.
The key issues during the discussion included initiatives relating to the European Year of Rail and next steps. In addition, participants shared news from their networks. The final video from the “Music and trains bring people together” initiative launched within TopRail at the beginning of this year was shown during the meeting and was very well received by the members.
The topics discussed included:
- highlights of the “Developing of the future shape of mobility” paper – Marc Guigon, UIC
- revenue management for night trains – Christoph Hinterleitner, ÖBB
- Gares & Connexions’s summer season – Raluca Dunca, SNCF
- the vaccination situation in different countries
Mr Casas noted that the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic have highlighted opportunities for future development and stressed the importance of international working groups such as TopRail.
TopRail during the European Year of Rail
The European Year of Rail is an EU initiative which provides an opportunity for greater visibility and amplification of messages regarding the importance of rail tourism.
A photo competition with the theme “My Secret Rail Spots” is also being organised. The aim of the competition is for railway employees to act as ambassadors for their railways and to share their favourite rail spots in order to inspire passengers to hop on a train and get to know these places once it becomes possible to travel again.
104 photos have been uploaded to the PollUnit platform. Participants have until 11 October to vote for their favourite picture of their secret railway spot on the PollUnit platform. The 12 photos with the most “likes” will be used to produce a UIC calendar. A TopRail committee will choose the best photos from various countries to create the UIC TopRail 2022 calendar. A selection of the photos with the most votes will also be published on the UIC Instagram page.
Information was shared on the upcoming third TopRail Forum, “Railway and Tourism: a cultural perspective”, which will take place online on the afternoon of 26 October in cooperation with RailtoLand European project partners. The key issue to be addressed during this workshop is the landscape as a tourist resource, and how to connect cultural tourism and railways.
Concluding the meeting, it was noted that the next TopRail meeting will be held on 22 November.
What is TopRail?
TopRail is a UIC project that actively promotes railway tourism products by increasing the visibility of service offerings. This is accomplished by fostering close collaboration between stakeholders and their customers to encourage railway tourism opportunities. Railway tourism offers a wide range of tourism alternatives combining exclusivity, technology, luxury and sustainability whilst contributing to supporting local economies.
The next TopRail Forum will be held online on 26 October.