Tuesday 27 November 2012
Railway Freight

UIC Freight Forum

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On 15 November the Freight Forum (FF) under the Chairmanship of Ferdinand Schmidt, CEO of ÖBB-Produktion, held its autumn meeting in Vienna.

High on the agenda of the Freight Forum featured the discussion on corridor structures. Regulation 913/2010 concerning a European rail network for competitive freight defines rules for the selection, organisation, management and the indicative investment planning for rail freight corridors. The regulation also defines a list of nine “initial corridors” to be worked on and some of them have to be established already by November 2013.

As explained by Roland Hartkopf, DB Schenker Rail, in the corridor structure as currently defined, the Railway Undertakings only enjoy a consultative role. The Freight Forum members have therefore submitted a project to the opt-in process whereby they would draft uniform requirements towards Infrastructure Managers so as to ensure the harmonisation of processes for accessing the corridors. By doing so Railway Undertakings want to ensure a standardised process is in place for all corridors. Failing to achieve this could lead to increased cost and loss of productivity for Railway Undertakings.

John Lutz, Senior Advisor UIC E-Commerce, informed the Forum members about the latest developments relating to TAF TSI. On 15 November, the consolidated version of the new Master Plan was submitted to the European Railway Agency (ERA). What this document shows is that the great majority (in terms of market share) of the European rail freight industry has presented individual plans addressing the TAF-TSI rollout. The target date for functional implementation, without the Train Identifiers (TID) has been established for 2018, although some functions may come in earlier.

With the revision of the Directive on Railway Safety in Europe, the EU introduced the term “Entity in Charge of Maintenance” (ECM) in 2008. This ECM must ensure that all wagons assigned to it in the national vehicle registers are serviced in accordance with the regulations in force. Furthermore, the Directive specifies that the ECM of freight wagons must be certified by the responsible authorities by the end of 2012.

Certification in this regard, which is indispensible for wagon holders if these act as ECM for their own fleet, is done by the national safety authorities or designated departments. Bernard Schmitt, Senior Advisor for Freight, reported on the key aspects discussed during a workshop organised by ERA at the end of September. He informed participants that European rules coming into force on 1 June 2013 will require every wagon to be maintained by a certified ECM as per EU regulation 445.

Discussions amongst Freight Forum members also underlined the change of responsibility which is critical for RUs insofar as they will now have to endorse the responsibility of adequate maintenance for wagons in their trains. The Study Group Wagon User was remitted by the Chairman to look into this issue.

The Freight Forum members were also given feedback on the various projects. Bernard Schmitt reported on the Long and Heavy Trains project which will present its full results by the end of the year. Thomas Mettlich, Rail Cargo Austria, reported on the EUR Pallet project and reminded participants that the first standardised flat pallet, developed by UIC in 1961, became the most successful model of its kind worldwide and has now established itself as an ever-present feature of the logistics chain. In order to ensure its perennial success the UIC Palletisation Working Group of which he is in charge is adapting the leaflets of the 435 series.

Finally the Study Group Chairmen reported on the concrete 2012 achievements of their Group and presented their 2013 work programme.

The dates of the next Freight Forum are:

  • 29 May 2013
  • 20 November 2013
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