Moroccon Railways (ONCF) and UIC co-hosted the 3rd International Railway Safety and Security Seminar on the 18 and 20 March, 2009, in Morocco under the heading of “Safety Requirements of High Speed Rail”. The opening was chaired by Mr Mohamed Rabie Khlie, Director General of ONCF and Mr Vipin Sharma, Deputy Chief Executive of UIC. Mssrs Khaddour, Director of Safety and Security for ONCF and Ignacio Barrón, Director of High Speed at UIC were also present as well as Meryem Belhaj, Head of the International Training and Human Factors Competence Centre, Jacques Colliard, Head of the Security Competence Centre UIC and Paolo de Cicco, UIC ERTMS specialist.
This 3rd seminar centred on exchanging lessons learnt in terms of safety in relation to high speed rail, between UIC members and was attended by over 150 heads of safety from 18 countries.
The following main topics for reflection were covered:
Safety requirements for high speed infrastructure
Safety requirements for high speed rolling stock
Safety in high speed rail operations
Safety in terms of training and management of personnel involved in high speed rail systems
General safety requirements – from a national and international perspective
The choice of theme for this seminar was closely tied to the current project to build high speed lines in Morocco. The first high speed line should be opened for operations in 2014 and is to link Casablanca to Tangiers (350 Km) in less than two hours. The master plan for high speed aims to have 1500 Km of high speed line built by 2030.
UIC was actively involved in organising the 1st and 2nd of these seminars held in April 2005 and December 2007 respectively. The 2nd seminar concentrated on organisational and human factors in safety management. The human factor should indeed be used to build a company’s risk culture in order to ensure it is equipped to better manage problems and face critical situations.
Proper organisation of work, evaluation and recognition of people’s fortes and foibles make it easier to harness their potential and raise overall performance of the human element in sociotechnical systems.
This third seminar was of particular interest, since for the first time it provided an extensive and systematic overview of all the components which come into play and underpin the confidence that exists in high speed rail. Since high speed operations began in Japan in 1964, after the carriage of over 15 billion passengers, no train has ever been involved in an accident causing fatalities when running at speeds of over 250 Km/h. This is due in part to the successful design of the infrastructure-rolling stock system, but is also thanks to the quality of signalling, effective operating rules, good maintenance, efficient braking, accurate weather forecasting, antiseismic measures, fire prevention measures and high approval standards etc.
All these subjects were raised and examined by specialists at this third seminar, to which participants also took a keen interest, judging by the vast number of questions following each session.
The seminar closed on a series of promotional presentations followed by a technical visit of the new Marrakesh Station.
Safety and security of high speed systems is certainly an issue which will continue to be topical and be the subject of more discussion in the future.