Friday 20 February 2009

Kick-off meeting to set in train the “Train to Copenhagen”

(Paris, 5-6 February 2009)

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UIC HQ hosted on 5th-6th February the kick-off meeting of the “Train to Copenhagen” project. Oliver Sellnick, UIC Director of the Railway Undertakings Department welcomed the participants and gave an overview of the current situation: the transport sector is responsible for more than 25% of the global CO2-emissions causing global warming and rail has an important role to play in regards to address this challenge.

The project, which still has to be accepted by the UIC European Regional Assembly (RAE), is therefore to lead an international campaign related to the COP15 (UN Climate Change Conference). The aim consists in capitalising on the rails environmental advantage by initiating and coordinating a global promotional campaign for the railways. COP 15 represents a unique opportunity to communicate the environmental friendliness of the railways and the railways could benefit by seizing the opportunity by undertaking national campaigns.

The project mobilizes the strong commitment of UIC, from the Environment and Passenger departments as well as from the Communications one. A large number of UIC European Members participated in the meeting and expressed support of the project, among them ATOC (Great Britain), Banedanmark (Denmark), Banverket (BV, Sweden), DB (Germany), DSB (Denmark), NS (Netherlands), ÖBB (Austria), RENFE (Spain), SNCB (Belgium), SNCF (France)…The international organizations UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), UN Global Compact and WWF were also invited and were interested in working together on the UIC project.

The meeting aimed to develop a project framework and to identify the messages, the targets and what kind of central support would be helpful for the campaign at a European level and the campaigns on a national scale.

Key messages discussed at the meeting will focus on the eco-friendliness of rail; time comfort; rails continuous improvement efforts; integrated transportation mode; investments in infrastructure to fully utilise the rail’s potential; and transportation is a problem sector. It should target the decision makers, the NGOs, the media and, on a national level, the general public.

The participants also considered which elements should be developed commonly and develop a project plan for these elements. In order to support the national campaigns a central toolkit could be developed. This toolkit will consist of a central website, international events, calculation methods for measuring the environmental impact of policy and infrastructure changes, a graphic identity, brochures, reports etc. Various communications activities were defined. One highlight would be to invite decision makers, journalists and NGO’s representatives on board on a special train running from Brussels to Copenhagen, and to encourage the journalists to promote the event. Along this, events in stations together with a number of communications activities at national level are also envisaged.

The feasibility of all these activities, and the budget, should now be checked and a project proposal should be finalized for submission to the UIC European Regional Assembly on 30th March 2009.

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