The event was organised by Railways Africa, the magazine and online news portal for rail news throughout the African continent and partner in ILCAD, and sponsored by Bombardier and Transnet.
The various sessions were chaired by John I. Thomson, CEO of the Railroad Association of South Africa.
South African Deputy Minister for Transport Jeremy Cronin gave the opening address of the conference and exhibition: 80 exhibitors mainly from Africa and Europe, the USA and Canada and 45 speakers from various countries. This is the second exhibition of this type – the first one having taken place in Cape Town in 2009.
Richard Vallihu from Transnet Rail Engineering welcomed all participants and underlined the importance and the quality of the exhibitors and speakers present at this event: representatives from the field of new technologies, institutions, finance and industries met at the event for business, to promote their projects and companies and to share experience. Transnet is keen on safety and security to make trains safer. They are also raising environmental awareness with a view to achieving a sustainable future.
David Anglin, Director of Passenger Business Development at Bombardier, the event’s main sponsor (for the second time) gave an opening speech: Bombardier is the global leader in the railway industry he said, and very present in South Africa where there is a considerable need for locomotives, passenger coaches, diesel locomotives units and light rails. Bombardier has expertise in maintenance and is also the global leader in transferring technologies worldwide, wherever they have projects. Transnet Freight Rail needs locomotives but they also need much investment, without which nothing is possible. He highlighted three important presentations, namely: “International Operators Best practices and Trends” on track gauge, on the costs and benefits of high speed rail projects and finally on the Gautrain maintenance and the most modern depot in the world.
Gautrain had a stand next to UIC. Dr Barbara Jensen, Gautrain’s Head of Communications, also delivered a speech and explained how important it was to communicate transparently on a project like Gautrain that has encountered much controversy from the very beginning in South Africa due to costs. Finally, following an effective and long-term communications campaign people are now very positive compared to several years ago when the project was launched. She also mentioned several awards they have recently received as a result of their communications actions including the latest one which is international e.g. the special price they received two weeks ago in Paris at CineRail, the 19th edition of the international film festival organised by UIC.
UIC had a stand exhibiting UIC and ILCAD activities and on the first day received a visit from South African Deputy Minister for Transport Jeremy Cronin. The following day UIC gave two presentations: one on UIC’s role and worldwide mission, particularly in Africa, and one on ILCAD. The outcome is that Railways Africa, through Phillippa Fox, already an ILCAD partner in 2010, will be accompanied in ILCAD 2011 by Transnet Freight Rail, our active member in South Africa and possibly by PRASA (the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa), the South African Railway Safety Regulator and Swazirail on 9 June, all of whom had a stand at the exhibition. For information Transnet Freight Rail and our ILCAD contact Mike Asefovitz will be launching a national campaign for children before Easter using the character “Captain Track”, as well as a campaign for adults, and will undertake further actions on 9 June 2011.
Following both presentations on UIC and ILCAD, a number of interesting contacts were made on the UIC stand with various African Railways across southern Africa: Swazirail (UIC associate member), CFM (Mozambique) and other prospects.
At least over 1000 visitors visited the exhibition.