The 8th World Congress on High Speed Rail, jointly organised by UIC and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and in close partnership with all UIC North American members, started on Wednesday in Philadelphia, USA, in the presence of over 1,000 participants representing the worldwide rail sector.
UIC HIGHSPEED is the unique platform at global level to benchmark and exchange on all issues determining the planning, construction and operations of high speed rail systems across the world.
Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General, expressed great satisfaction in holding this world conference for the first time on the North American continent, at a time when important political decisions are being taken towards the development of the first high speed rail services in the United States. The opening addresses were given by Yoshio Ishida, Chairman of UIC, Gary Thomas, Chairman of APTA, Michael P. Melaniphy, President and CEO of APTA and US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
Ray LaHood presented the latest perspectives for the introduction of high speed rail in America and insisted that today’s generation has to leave high speed rail as a legacy to the next generation.
“The UIC Congress in the USA is a unique opportunity at a time when dreams can become reality for the next generations”, said Ray LaHood.
Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General, said “UIC, as a kind of Federal Association around the world of rail operators and specialists, is happy and ready to support the American vision for high speed through the accumulated experience of all its members.”
The opening included a high-level panel of Ministers and Railway Presidents who described the achievements and perspectives for high speed rail in their respective countries following a “World Tour of High Speed”. Key speakers included Mr Osamu Yoshida, Senior Vice Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan; Mr Huawu HE, Chief Engineer, Ministry of Railways of the P.R of China; Mr Süleyman Karaman, President of Turkish Railways (TCDD), Chairman of UIC Middle-East Region; Mr Mauro Moretti, CEO of Italian Railways (FS), UIC Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER); Mr Vladimir Yakunin, President of Russian Railways (RZD); Mr Marcel Verslype, Executive Director of the European Railway Agency (ERA); Mr Guillaume Pepy, President of SNCF, Chairman of UIC European Region; Mr Marc Descheemaecker, CEO of Belgium Railways (SNCB), Chairman of UIC Passenger Forum; and Mr Apolinar Rodriguez, representing Spain.
The present status of high speed rail around the world was also presented by Mr Ignacio Barron de Angoiti, UIC Passenger and High Speed Director, followed by a presentation of the Congress programme by Mr Michel Leboeuf, French National Railways (SNCF) and Chairman of the UIC HIGHSPEED 2012 Scientific Committee.
The programme followed by parallel sessions on all specific aspects of high speed rail developments and operations. Two high-level round tables on 12 and 13 July were dedicated respectively to the question “How to deliver a high speed rail project in today’s economic context?” (moderated by Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC) and on 13 July to the question “What part can high speed rail play in the future transport market?” (moderated by Michael P. Melaniphy, APTA).
During the course of the three days, participants will have the opportunity to become familiar with the products of over one hundred exhibitors at the UIC HIGHSPEED Exhibition as well as the rolling stock and equipment displayed by Amtrak and SEPTA at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.