A webinar held at the end of September brought together the North American rail community on the topic of environmental sustainability and provided an opportunity to discuss ambitious strategies to transform the railways in the region as part of a sustainable mobility system.
On behalf of UIC Director General François Davenne, Marie Plaud-Lombard, UIC Coordinator for the UIC North America region, said: “The next ten years will be pivotal. The railways will play a key role in mitigating climate change as the backbone of a decarbonised and sustainable mobility system. We need a systemic solution that mobilises innovation and brings about a shift in behaviour. As rail becomes the backbone of mobility, and with infrastructure capacity enhanced by interoperable innovation, the railways will be able to handle ever-increasing mobility demands.”
Barbara Klein Barr, Chair of the UIC NARA and Director of International Programs at the US Department of Transportation, welcomed this first webinar and was pleased to see a good number of members from the UIC North America region in attendance. She stressed the importance of the subject.
Dr Maryam Allahyar, Director of Research, Development & Technology at the Federal Railroad Administration, delivered the keynote speech on ‘Moving Rail to a safer and cleaner future’ and spoke about alternative fuels and emissions.
Lucie Anderton, UIC Head of Sustainability and moderator of the debate, shared her global vision and reiterated UIC’s goals with regard to sustainability:
- Set the vision: a railway that supports a green recovery as the backbone of sustainable mobility; connectivity that contributes to healthy and sustainable lifestyles and economies on every continent – one that is emission-free, a community hub accessible for all, and is both biodiverse and a good neighbour
- Provide the tools (Eco Passenger EcoTransit, SDG Rail Index)
- Convene the community
VIA Rail (Canada) opened the webinar with a presentation entitled ’VIA Rail’s sustainability plan and waste ambition’, followed by Amtrak (USA) with a presentation on ‘Climate resilience planning: the future rides with us’. Continuing south, ARTF, the Regulatory Agency for Rail Transport (Mexico), focused on ‘Strategies for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions’. Another presentation by the Railway Association of Canada presented the sustainable goals, challenges and ongoing projects for sustainable railways. Finally, BNSF closed the webinar with a presentation of its green ambitions.
To conclude the webinar, Barbara Barr emphasised the high level of engagement within the region. All participants expressed the desire to host another webinar soon to allow North American railways to reconvene on subjects as important as sustainability.