On 23 February, the freight RU Xborder working group presented its handbook on an ideal cross-border section from an RU perspective. The results of the work carried out over the past two and a half years were presented to an audience of over 100 participants from over 20 countries and 40 organisations at a virtual seminar. The entire European rail freight sector was represented: railway undertakings, infrastructure managers, national and European policymakers and industry.
Following an opening presentation from Sandra Géhénot, representing the RailFreightForward coalition and UIC as the coordinator of the working group’s activities, Désirée Baer, project sponsor and CEO of SBB Cargo, described the project as “developing quick-win solutions for driver language and operational issues at border sections”. Her presentation was followed by another from Karen Davies and Torben Holvad of the European Agency for Railways (ERA). They explained the concrete steps that the European Commission and the Agency are taking to drive a more interoperable European railway system by removing operational and legal constraints at borders.
The second part of the webinar was dedicated to the presentation of the handbook itself from the RU’s perspective. Steffen Weigelt of DB Cargo, Götz Walther of the VDV and Constantin Woronoff of Lineas presented the technical, legal and commercial aspects of an ideal cross-border section from the point of view of the RU.
In the final part of the webinar, the recommendations from the handbook were illustrated by applying them to three specific cross-border sections in Forbach, Szczecin and Tarvisio.
The webinar facilitated much lively discussion. Several participants representing various stakeholders congratulated the experts on the initiative and the work performed, which must now be developed further. A first concrete step is to extend the work to all cross-border sections in Europe. Applying the analysis tool developed as part of the project to all of the different sections in order to establish a comprehensive inventory will bring the concept of a “drive-through philosophy” one step closer. It is now up to the working group to devise a joint approach in collaboration with the project stakeholders.