The International Transport Forum’s 2013 Summit, organised by OECD/ITF, will take place next week in Leipzig from 22 to 24 May and address the issue of “Funding Transport”.
The Summit will consider all aspects of funding and financing transport to answer: How will transport infrastructure, services and systems in general be funded to meet current and future demands? UIC, which is pleased to have developed fruitful links with ITF over the last several years now, will be participating in the Forum to represent the worldwide rail sector. UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux will participate on 22 May in a Ministers’ Round Table dedicated to High Speed Rail, focusing on the costs and benefits of these systems which can significantly increase connectivity between regions.
High speed rail can provide rapid and comfortable travel for long distance travellers, boost economic development across regions, and improve living standards of communities by reducing congestion and pollution. Although many countries around the world are currently planning and/or undertaking high speed rail projects, decision-makers face tough discussions particularly when long-term travel demand and economic growth are uncertain. As high speed rail requires significant levels of investment, decision-makers require reliable and sustainable financial mechanisms with proper risk allocation among stakeholders. In this Round Table, global leaders from both public and private sectors will come together in frank, in-depth discussions to tackle this issue.
In this context, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux would like to highlight that
High speed projects are costly but should only be considered on financial criteria alone. In any proposed high speed project, criteria concerning policy (in terms of land planning), economics (growth of GDP, employment…), society, and those linked to sustainable development are worth considering as part of the financial equation. They also need to be better defined and valued from the start. With the current depletion of resources, financing can no longer remain exclusively public and high speed projects are now funded through mixed forms of public-private collaboration. Furthermore, high speed has a competitive advantage (beyond 1500 km) on international journeys.This opportunity is worth taking into account. Another point: the toll rate – which until now has been set too high for high speed – could reverse the profitability curve (volume effects). Competition between operators incites them to be even more competitive (in particular with the “low-cost” phenomenon) and means that several factors have to be considered in the financing of such projects.”
More ideas and areas of progress debated during this Round Table will be reported on in a forthcoming issue of UIC eNews.