As part of the consultation with the Chairmen of all UIC regions about guidance and perspectives for further developing regional cooperation activities, UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux met Mr Süleyman Karaman, President and Director-General of Turkish Railways (TCDD), Chairman of the UIC Regional Assembly for the Middle-East (RAME) on 23 March in Ankara.
The Turkish Railways’ delegation also included TCDD Deputy Director-Generals Mr Ismet Duman and Mr Isa Apaydin, Mr Ibrahim Cevik, Head of International Affairs Department, the members of the International Affairs team in charge of cooperation with UIC, and the person responsible for the TCDD Training Division. From UIC, Mr Loubinoux was assisted by Paul Véron, Director, UIC Coordinator for the Middle-East.
RAME Chairman Süleyman Karaman and the UIC Director-General agreed on the assessment that the activities of the UIC Middle-Eastern region recently suffered from the unstable situation in several countries of the region. The result was the postponement or cancellation of several important activities planned in the UIC RAME Action Plan.
On the other hand, Mr Loubinoux stressed that the Middle-East is currently one of the UIC regions with the most ambitious and wide-ranging railway development plans, which also means huge opportunities for potential investors and business partners. Another positive development is the regular expansion of the RAME community to new countries or new railway companies. Therefore the UIC RAME Action Plan for 2012-2013 has to be reconsidered, updated and reshaped in order to take all the new developments into consideration and implement activities which will be directly beneficial to the Middle-Eastern railways.
During this meeting it was decided that a joint letter, signed by Mr Karaman and Mr Loubinoux, would be sent to all RAME Presidents and CEOs in order to send out a strong signal to re-launch and boost UIC RAME activities. This would be achieved by concentrating on three main fields of regional cooperation in 2012:
- As a priority the organisation of the high-level conference “Towards a competitive, interconnected Rail Transport System – Projects and Perspectives in the Middle-East”, that had to be postponed twice due to political evolutions and instability in the Middle-Eastern region. The main objective with this important event is to present railway plans and gain support from governments, international organisations, financial institutions and banks, potential investors and business partners, intermodal operators, ports, and the industry. This high-level conference could be held in November in Jordan (to be confirmed).
- Technical cooperation with the support of the UIC’s technical expertise. The main event in the technical field would be a RAME Seminar on High Speed to be held in Ankara in early October 2012. This seminar would target all members in Middle-East – and also Asia – planning or implementing high speed rail operations. This seminar would be designed as a Training Session on High Speed for the Middle-East.
- Developing training capacity for RAME members, starting with the capacity already available in existing rail training centres. TCDD has agreed to devote some of its capacity to developing specific programmes for RAME members at Ankara’s rail training centre. The first of its activities will begin in early October with the preparation of the High Speed Training Session in Ankara, in close cooperation with the UIC HQ High Speed Department and the UIC Expertise Development Division.
All these actions should be implemented with the strong commitment and involvement of all members in the Middle-Eastern Region and with the permanent support from the UIC RAME Regional Office based in Tehran.
The 10th meeting of the UIC Regional Assembly for the Middle-East will be held from 3 – 4 June 2012 in Doha, Qatar, at the kind invitation of the Qatar Railway Company (QRC), which joined UIC as a new member in December 2011.