The EMC and the RAE meetings were held online in the morning and afternoon of 6 July respectively, bringing together senior representatives of member companies from right across the region. Along with the partner organisations and supported by the Europe Team and colleagues from the UIC HQ team, the focus of the discussions was on core topics such as business recovery post pandemic – what will be the shape of future mobility, European Year of Rail, regional finance, the projects programme 2021 & 2022, standards, research and innovation and contact and interfaces with a number of new partner organisations.
During the well-attended Regional Assembly Europe (RAE) in the afternoon, Regional President Francisco Cardoso dos Reis, IP (Portugal) and UIC Director General François Davenne, thanked the members for their support over the last months and highlighted how important it was to have been able to remain in contact, albeit on an online fashion. Meeting the needs of the railway community in such a successful manner during these difficult and uncertain times is something of which the UIC team is justifiably proud.
In his debrief of recent topics from the Board of Directors, François Davenne highlighted the very pleasing increases in the member satisfaction rate with regard to UIC’s work, commitment and reactivity. He and the team will be making every endeavour to continue the trend. He highlighted the importance of developing inter-regional projects and the delivery of technical solutions and key tools. This will enable the development of a more prominent programme of solution-finding projects that will support the target of railways becoming the backbone of future mobility.
Simon Fletcher, Director UIC Europe, spoke of the pending changes to the EMC college. The mandates of the current EMC come to an end in December and he announced that the call for candidates to establish the College for 2022 and 2023 will be launched following the Regional Assembly. A recommendation will be made to the EMC in September and the RAE on 9 December will be invited to endorse the nominations with mandates starting in January 2022.
Concerning the (current) 2021 and (future) 2022 Work Programme, Aline Wego, Head of Project Management Office, shared a summary list of the projects that have been started in 2021 and the headlines for the 2022 Work Programme. In her message, Ms Wego included a debrief of the ‘Projects Workshop’ held on 4 May where the full proposed programme for 2022 was presented across all sectors and regions and representing where business needs expressed by member companies had been expressed. Ms Wego presented the timeline for securing the necessary investment for the 2022 work programme and highlighted the importance to the process of getting initial feedback on interest from potential investing members. Due to the ongoing restrictions, Ms Wego announced that the deadline for the submission of ‘interest forms’ has been extended to mid-September.
Optimising the process of developing the UIC projects programme, is an important opportunity. François Davenne highlighted the proposal to organise a fast-track process in exceptional situations for projects that are considered to be urgent and for which the current process is not appropriate in terms of timeline. The European region will act as the test bed for this process before it is rolled out to other regions.
Regarding regional finances, Chief Financial officer Thierry Béra presented the current budgetary situation and invited the meeting to recommend the approval of the positive 2020 results, to note the in line with forecast financial situation at mid-year for the 2021 budget and the first elements for the 2022 & 2023 budgets. The meeting was asked to take note of the forecast for the three-year plan.
Marie Plaud-Lombard, Communications Director, gave an update on how UIC is participating in the European Year of Rail, the events it will organise, how it will communicate and how members can contribute and share their rail success stories. As part of the European Commission’s events, UIC plans to take part in the Connecting Europe Express initiative being developed by CER, where the train will cross Europe from Lisbon to Paris in September-October. During EYR, UIC is also organising a series of specific events with themes including rail tourism, safety, accessibility and the International Symposium in November-December, which will mark the beginning of the UIC centenary celebrations and will focus on the future challenges for rail in the next five, 10 and 15 years’ time.
It was highlighted that the UIC is playing a partnership role in a high-level summit that is being organised by Portuguese colleagues in Lisbon on 10, 11 and 12 November under the title of “SHAPING THE FUTURE OF MOBILITY”. The meetings were invited to ‘save the date’ and to note that there will be more information to follow regarding the programme, registration etc.
The ability for the railways to be able to rebuild customer confidence post pandemic and to regain passenger numbers, was the topic of the paper which UIC Passenger Director Marc Guigon presented. The so-called “New Normal” White Paper, is the culmination of work undertaken by the UIC passenger team with the support of consultancy firm Roland Berger. It sets out a wide-ranging set of recommendations for the resumption of business post-pandemic and includes mobility trends brought about by the pandemic and what this means for public transport. Recommendations for the railways to expand its domain of relevance include enhancing customer experience, innovation, further investment, fostering competition and improving environmental performance. Key also is the importance of maximising the use of existing capacity to provide the customer with the most practical transport solutions.
Regarding cooperation with other modes, Mr Guigon mentioned the MoUs underway between UIC and IATA (International Air Transport Association), UITP (International Association of Public Transport) and STA (Smart Ticketing Alliance) – the body promoting the establishment of interoperable smart ticketing in transport services in Europe and elsewhere.
In presenting the MoU that has been developed with Shift2Rail, François Davenne outlined the main areas of cooperation, especially sustainability and low-carbon solutions, FRMCS consistency, Data Modelling, Functional System Architecture, the definition of system interfaces and supporting integration of deliverables into the operational railway.
Martin Brennan, Head of Research and Innovation, spoke about the role of UIC in the successor structure to Shift2Rail, Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking. He highlighted the governance structure and how UIC will be involved in the System Pillar Steering Group as a technical body.
The UIC has been and continues to be an integral part of ERRAC (European Railway Research Advisory Council). In respect to the ERRAC Officers for 2021 – 2024, appointed during the recent plenary meeting, he focussed on the role of the new chairman Roland Moser, currently SBB Head Technology Officer and nominated by UIC. Whilst the ERRAC secretariat passes to UNIFE under the rotational process, Mr Brennan will continue to provide UIC support to the ongoing work of the Council.
Regarding DAC (Digital Automatic Couplers), Frédéric Henon, Head of Safety, spoke about its implementation and automation benefits for freight traffic, the important tasks that UIC is performing in this programme and the positive impact that DAC will have not just on freight but on the whole railway system.
Standardisation is a very central part of the UIC’s daily life and Célia Levy, UIC Chief Standardisation Officer, gave an update on the work of the ESMG (European Standards Management Group). The ESMG, a tripartite group with CER and EIM, is responsible for preparing, considering and coordinating the ROC (Railway Operating Community) contributions to all European bodies related to standardisation issues. A positive report has been drafted after six months stating the added value of having a tripartite body that is able to focus on the interface between European regulations and standards from a ROC perspective.
François Davenne added that a common paper is to be established on international standardisation and highlighted the importance of working towards a single vision concerning sectoral technical specifications and a mutual understanding of the roles and responsibilities of all the stakeholders involved.
François Davenne then presented an initiative that has evolved from an idea conceived by Team Europe with Francisco Cardoso dos Reis to shape future mobility through a multi-regional approach.
Taking the previously presented ‘New Normal’ White Paper, it is proposed to develop the recommendations on a region by region basis. In so doing the task will be to develop a complementary approach that might lead not only to a set of European solutions but a set that could emerge as a global perspective, one that provides the customer with a consolidated and standardised approach around the regions.
The European region will issue a paper before the summer break that will help other regions to develop their ideas and put forward their ideas that will be used to influence the agenda for the International Symposium on 30 November and 1 December.
It is widely acknowledged that railways are the least emitting form of land transport. In the lead up to COP26, Pinar Yilmazer, Senior Sustainability Advisor and representing Head of Sustainability Lucie Anderton, presented gave an update how and where UIC will engage in helping to coordinate the global voice of rail. Setting out an impressive provisional list of events and partnerships, it is clear that Sustainable Development in railways will be a central theme at COP26 scheduled to be held from 1 – 12 November in Glasgow.
Regarding Relations with partner organisations, Passenger Director Marc Guigon, updated the meeting on the three MoUs currently underway, notably with UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), the STA (Smart Ticketing Alliance) and OSDM (Open Sales and Distribution Model).
It was noted that the 33rd Regional Assembly is planned for 9 December 2021 as a physical meeting, with the EMC due to take place in the morning.
Members are warmly invited to be part of the UIC International Symposium to be held from 30 November and 1 December 2021, which will mark the beginning of the UIC centenary celebrations.