European Project SUSTRAIL presents its achieved results during its Mid-Term Conference in Paris

The SUSTRAIL consortium and UIC held the SUSTRAIL Mid-Term Conference at UIC Headquarters, Paris, on 4 December 2013, offering issues for debate to participants, including railway suppliers, research groups, railway operators (undertakings and infrastructure managers), guaranteeing that project solutions will satisfy user needs and fulfil railway requirements, railway organisations at EU and international level.

The SUSTRAIL (Sustainable freight railway) project commissioned by the European Commission started in June 2011 with a duration of four years (June 2011 – May 2015). This Mid-Term Conference was an opportunity to learn about the main results achieved by the project over the last 24 months, including the initial outcomes from the combined approach SUSTRAIL is working on that integrates vehicle and track innovations for a more sustainable freight railway. Also, the event was the occasion to plan for the project’s forthcoming activities and to pave the way for the exploitation of the project results.

Mr Hans Günther Kersten, Director of the UIC Rail System Department, opened the conference on behalf of UIC which was “honoured to be hosting the Mid-Term conference, because dissemination is an integral part of its core business of sharing knowledge with its Members. Moreover this project is important for both operators and infrastructure managers as part of the strategy towards the achievement of the objectives defined in the 2011 EU White Paper on Transport, to which UIC has committed itself.”

Among others, the following topics were presented:

  • Integrated approach for an increased performance in the freight rail system (Network Rail, D’Appolonia)
  • Current and future trends in freight systems and freight traffic flows (Newrail, Network Rail, Adif, Marlo)
  • Running gear (Huddersfield University)
  • Novel wheel profiles and improved breaking systems (Lucchini, Politecnico di Milano, KES GmbH)
  • Lightweight solutions for bogie and wagon structures (Newrail)
  • Condition monitoring for the freight rail vehicle and for the rail track (Mermec)
  • Performance based design principles towards a “zero” maintenance track (Network Rail, D’Appolonia)
  • Supportive ballast and substrate (D’Appolonia)
  • Switches and crossing (University of Huddersfield)
  • LCC and RAMS analysis (Lulea Technical University)
  • Novel business models, including user and environmental benefits, and technical implementation and human factors (University of Leeds, Network Rail, Grupo Clas)

The Sustrail objective is to contribute to the rail freight system to allow it to regain position and market, accounting for:

  • The increase in demand of the total freight transport volumes: about 40% (in tonne-kilometres) by 2030 and 80% by 2050;
  • The shift of 30% of road freight over 300 km to other modes such as rail or waterborne transport by 2030 (50% by 2050) as targeted by the European Commission.

Within this framework and motivated by the need and opportunity for change in rail transport, SUSTRAIL provides the approach, structure and technical content to improve the Sustainability, Competitiveness, and Availability of European railway networks thanks to an integrated approach.

Innovations in rolling stock and freight vehicles combined with innovations in the track components will be pursued by: adopting a holistic approach; implementing a clear methodology and viable procedures; setting up appropriate business cases; ensuring the penetration and the exploitation of the project results by means of effective dissemination activities; cooperating with National and EU authorities in view of future proposals for recommendations to be adopted for enhancing freight transport in the railway context.

The main scientific and technological expected results of the project are:

  • The development of advanced vehicle dynamics concepts
  • Developments in the traction and braking systems for high speed low impact freight operation
  • Novel designs and materials for lightweight high performance freight wagon body vehicles and bogie structures
  • Advanced condition based predictive maintenance tools for critical components of both railway vehicles and the track
  • Identification of performance based design principles to move towards the zero maintenance ideal for the vehicle/track system
  • Optimisation of the ballast system and novel ground stabilisation and monitoring techniques to reduce track geometry degradation
  • Optimisation of the track system and geometry especially at switches and crossings

For further information please contact Isabelle De Keyzer, Dissemination of EU co-funded R&D Projects:

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“Railway Track Science & Engineering” (RTSE) International Workshop on Ballast Issues and Challenges held at UIC in Paris

UIC, SNCF, and Heriot Watt University were pleased to open this new series of “Railway Track Science & Engineering” (RTSE) international workshops on railway technologies. This inaugural workshop held over two full days, 5 and 6 December, brought over 130 key experts to Paris UIC HQ from around the world to network and discuss the issues and challenges surrounding ballasted tracks at all train speeds and axle weights.

The workshop’s keynote speakers were:

  • Tim Smart, Director, International HSR & Head of Engineering & Ops, High Speed 2 Limited, UK, on “A National Strategy for High Speed Rail”
  • Dr Hideyuki Takai, Executive Director, Railway Technical Research Institute, RTRI, Japan, on “ Research and Development on ballasted track in Japan”
  • Prof Dr Farhang Radjai, Research Director, CNRS, University Montpellier 2, France, on “Micromechanics of Ballast Material”
  • Prof Dr Uwe Krueger, Chief Executive Officer, Atkins Plc, on “High Speed rail and cities in the future”

Even if slab track solutions are increasing – especially for high speed applications – more than 95% of tracks around the world still rest on ballast. This makes ballast a crucial track component and the maintenance of the ballast system quite an expensive budget for infrastructure managers.

Ballast has multiple roles: distributing stress from the ballast layer to the subgrade, anchoring the track, providing elasticity to vertical loads, acting as a form of drainage, attenuating noise and vibrations – all of which are dependent on the knowledge of its characteristics and an acute understanding of its behaviour and its deterioration process.

Infrastructure managers face three key questions regarding their existing and future ballasted tracks:

  • How to assess the remaining lifetime of ballast in-track? (in terms of tools and criteria)
  • How to extend this lifetime at low cost?
  • Is ballast an economically and technically sustainable solution to meet the challenge of very or ultra high speed?

The increasing demands of higher axle loads, commercial line speeds and track usage means that understanding ballast behaviour and its interactions with infrastructure still remains a critical element to the design and successful operation of ballasted railway tracks. Indeed, the transition to high and perhaps even ultra-speed in the future, has led to the amplification and acceleration of the degradation pathways such as track geometry deterioration and increased ground vibration transmission.

In parallel, the need to increase the operational capacity of railway lines and the renewal of existing, high speed and classical networks, requires a combination of non-intrusive monitoring, accurate diagnostic and efficient maintenance. Railway ballast knowledge remains insufficiently developed in comparison to recent developments in granular science. This essential component of the railway system needs to be addressed more rationally and by using modern and scientific approaches and techniques.

If we are to improve the performance of ballasted tracks for current and future operational needs, a complete examination of the science and engineering governing ballast track behaviour needs to be carried out.

In the beginnings of high speed rail, it was said that it was impossible to go faster than 250 km/h because the ballast would disintegrate. Now that we have reached 350, we cannot be sure what future research will hold; so it is a question of cost and sustainable development.

Hoping that the success of the Workshop on Ballast Issues and Challenges will be the first of a long series of RTSE workshops, for more information please consult:

Laurent Schmitt:
Senior Advisor Infrastructure
UIC Rail System Department

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ONCF follows its plan on level crossings

On the occasion of Morocco’s Independence Day celebrations, ONCF and the local authorities in Settat Province inaugurated one road bridge located to the south of Sidi El Aidi and began construction of another at the entrance to the same town.

The execution of these projects, which required an investment of 25 million dirhams, falls within the scope of ONCF’s programme to secure railway crossing points by removing level crossings and replacing them with grade-separated crossings to increase the safety of local residents and traffic.

100 million dirhams have been allocated to this programme for the Berrechid-Settat corridor alone, which involves building engineering structures (road bridges, culvert crossings, pedestrian bridges, etc.), in order to remove all level crossings on this corridor by 2015.

To this end, of the 19 level crossings present on this corridor, 12 have been removed since 2010 (60%) and have been replaced by three road bridges, three culvert crossings and an underpass at a cost of 45 million dirhams.

The construction of these projects is part of ONCF’s pro-active initiative to carry out its ambitious programme, worth almost 1.5 billion dirhams, between 2010 and 2015 which aims to secure the use of railway crossing areas, both level crossings as well as areas on open track.

With regard to level crossings, this programme addresses three priority areas:

  • Removing 180 LC, which represents 50% of existing LC on the national network and 100% of LC located along double tracks (Fez-Casablanca-Marrakech, Casablanca El Jadida). They will gradually be replaced by new structures (road bridges, rail bridges, etc.) at an increased rate of 40 LC per year until 2015. This rate hardly exceeded two LC per year before 2005, 15 LC between 2005 and 2009, and 20 LC between 2010 and 2012;
  • Securing 260 unmanned LC by equipping them with an audible warning device, automatic barrier closure system and roadside flashing lights to signal the approach of a train;
  • No further building of LC in any new projects. This is the case with the project already underway to double-track the line between Settat and Marrakech and other projects such as the Taourirt-Nador and Tangier Med Port routes.

With regard to areas located on open track (away from LC), it is worth mentioning that trespassing on railway property and crossing railway lines outside of designated crossing areas are the cause of a number of accidents recorded each year. To combat this behaviour – which often results in tragic consequences – ONCF is investing in the construction of fences and alternative crossing structures (walkways, underpasses, etc.)

In both cases (LC and open track), to make road users, local residents, and the general public aware of and accountable for their actions, communications and outreach campaigns are being carried out through the national media and in partnership with local authorities and NGOs.

The ONCF programme to remove level crossings, which was presented to His Majesty the King, on 14 November 2012 in Benguerir, is proceeding according to schedule. Its positive results are beginning to show with regard to the notable drop in the number of accidents both around level crossings and on open track.

(Source: ONCF)

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Training seminar successfully held at TCDD Headquarters

The training seminar was organised from 27 – 28 November 2013 in Ankara following the invitation by Turkish Railways (TCDD). The participants were composed of members of the Foreign Relations Department and translators. This team will combine their efforts to translate RailLexic (UIC’s railway terminology database) into Turkish. Therefore, Turkish might well become the 23rd language in the next edition of RailLexic which comprises 22 languages at present.

The objective of the seminar was to demonstrate the use of the new web-based tool destined for the input of terms. The first part of the seminar allowed participants to get a detailed overview of all the functionalities and features of the on-line interface. Further presentations allowed the attendees to gain insight into the different ways of organising the translation process and best practices in the field. The second part consisted of a hands-on workshop for the participants where lively discussions took place among participants.

This tool, exclusively designed for the Terminology Group members, is a big step forward in terminology cooperation since any changes and new terms can be seen in real time. TCDD representatives present at the meeting welcomed the new tool which will make it easier to coordinate the translation, updating and revision of Turkish railway terminology in RailLexic. They were very eager to put the new tool to use and to participate in the next Terminology Group Meeting in 2014.

For further information please contact Rosalinde Taucher: or go to

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News from UIC members

Croatia: appointment of Mr Danijel Krakic as new Director of HZ Cargo

On 31 October 2013, the Assembly of HZ Cargo appointed Mr Danijel Krakic as the new Director.

Mr Krakic graduated from the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences in Zagreb. From 2008 until 2011 he served as Director of the Directorate for Railway Traffic and between 2011 – 2013, he was Head of the Railway Sector.
From 2008 – 2011 he was also the President of the Supervisory Board of HZ Holding and HZ Cargo.

UIC expresses its warmest congratulations to Mr Danijel Krakic on his appointment and conveys its very best wishes

(Source: HZ Cargo)

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News from UIC members

Vladimir Yakunin addresses participants at the International Youth Forum “New Paradigm of Education: European Dialogue”

At the end of November the President of Russian Railways (RZD) Vladimir Yakunin took part in the International Youth Forum “New Paradigm of Education: European Dialogue”, held in Paris.

Vladimir Yakunin presented his vision of education today and highlighted the important role of youth in its development and modernisation. He also shared with participants RZD’s experience in creating an educational chain – from kindergarten to university and entry into the world of work within the company itself.

RZD is the founder of 283 private educational establishments for children, owned by the railways.

In addition, RZD collaborates with top universities in Russia and around the world. The company offers the largest number of specialist training schemes in Russia. Thus, running in parallel within the company is a system providing a corporate education in economics and management, whose main feature is the corporate university of RZD, created with the aim of improving the management of the group’s executive staff. Since 2010, over 9,500 executives have been through this education system at various levels.

In collaboration with its partners, the company is launching a whole series of international educational initiatives. Among these it is worth mentioning the teaching programmes for potential employees of RDZ in the shape of MBAs (Master of Business Administration), EMBAs (Executive Master of Business Administration) and business schools.

(Source: RZD)

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News from UIC members

Spain / France: Spain is only a train ride away – Renfe and SNCF launch sale of tickets for a new rail connection between Paris, Lyon, Toulouse and Marseille to Barcelona and Madrid

As of Thursday 28 November, it is possible to reserve a train ticket on a direct high-speed rail service linking France and Spain. The first commercial service will run on 15 December this year. It will now be possible to leave Paris Gare de Lyon station at 14:07 and arrive Barcelona Sants at 20:40, or leave Toulouse at 20:44 and alight in the centre of the Catalan capital at 23:26. SNCF and Renfe are combining their experience and knowledge by connecting these two large European high speed networks. This constitutes another step forward in the construction of high speed rail in Europe.

From 15 December 2013, customers will be offered new direct services: Paris, Toulouse and Lyon > Barcelona as well as Marseille, Barcelona > Madrid, with additional services to be added over the course of 2014.

Initially, Renfe and SNCF will operate five services a day in each direction:

  • Two daily return trips between Paris and Barcelona: six hours and 25 minutes, starting from 59 euros
  • One daily return trip between Marseille and Madrid: seven hours, starting from 89 euros
  • One daily return trip between Toulouse and Barcelona: three hours, starting from 39 euros
  • One daily return trip between Lyon and Barcelona: four hours, starting from 49 euros
  • Thanks to this ambitious project, 17 towns in France and Spain will be part of this new connection. Passengers will no longer have to change at Figueres when making the trip from Paris to Barcelona.

The new direct connection offers shorter travel times, more services and reduced prices for journeys to towns in the south of France and the Côte d’Azur. The service now links towns on both sides of the Pyrenees such as Girona, Figueres, Perpignan, Narbonne, Montpellier and Nîmes with at least four trains a day in each direction.

(Source: RENFE – SNCF)

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RailNetEurope Business Conference (Vienna, 5 December)

UIC attended the RailNetEurope Business Conference at the Palais Ferstel in Vienna on 5 December. The event was also the occasion for RNE to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Under the heading “Cooperation and Team Work… makes the dream work”, Harald Hotz, RailNetEurope President, welcomed guests and introduced rail freight corridors as the core theme of the conference.

He reminded participants that the European EC regulation 913/2010 concerning a European rail network for competitive freight established nine corridors, of which six were officially grounded on 10 November. All nine corridors were actually represented at the conference and benefited from a dedicated exhibition area.
RNE representatives proceeded with a presentation of the association’s achievements over the past 10 years and took that opportunity to thank UIC for its cooperation.
Key to the successful development of corridors are the IT tools developed by RailNetEurope. With these tools (PCS, TIS and CIS), RNE wants to support fast and easy access to the European rail infrastructure and increase the quality and efficiency of international rail traffic through standardised and harmonised processes.

A harmonised approach to freight corridors is an issue of utmost importance for rail freight undertakings as was explained by Jürgen Maier-Gyomlay, BLS-BLSC. He reiterated that the overall objective of the rail freight corridors is to increase rail freight’s market share of European freight transport by providing a network with conditions of use to allow freight trains to run reliably and seamlessly across borders. He went on to explain that as rail freight undertakings typically operate on more than one corridor, it is important to them that operational and administrative rules are as consistent as possible across all corridors in order to promote rather than impede interoperability. Railway Undertakings, with the support of UIC, are therefore developing a number of “Uniform Requirements” towards infrastructure managers to take into account the paramount need to enhance interoperability and seamlessness.

For further information please contact Sandra Géhénot, Senior Freight Advisor, UIC Freight Department:

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First Universal Rail Ticketing work group meeting

At the request of UIC’s Passenger Forum, the Ticketing Action Group (TAG) and the Telematics Application for Passenger New Ticketing group (TAP NT) have started work on a Universal Rail Ticketing (URT). Representatives of different European railway companies, along with UIC representatives, are defining unique standards for mobile ticketing and the interoperability between multiple ticket technologies.

URT chairmen, David Sarfatti of the TAG group and Kurt De Vriendt of the TAP NT group, gathered representatives of French, German, Belgian, Dutch and Thalys rail companies on Thursday 14 November. This first meeting took place at UIC headquarters in Paris. The goal of the workshop was to start the development of European industry standards that provide customers with more control on the ticketing process and give them convenient ways to manage their tickets for international journeys using mobile technology.

Mobile ticketing is already widely used in railways. With this technology, passengers connected to a smartphone application can book and validate their ticket. Paper printing is not required anymore. Their data – name, form of payment, journey destination and schedule – are safely recorded in a two-dimension barcode on their phone.
The URT group wants to develop this ticketing system and unify the specifications of the different European railway companies. The discussion also focuses on the definition of a way to convert a paper ticket to a mobile ticket, the securing of the passenger information and how to avoid fraud.

The participants will harmonise the contents of several UIC leaflets; the 918-2 TAG paper ticket leaflet based on security in paper, the 918-3 TAP-NT self-print leaflet based on security in data and the 918-4 ticketless leaflet based on security in system. At the end of the project, the group should come up with a new leaflet containing all this information in one document.

The advantages of this URT for the railway companies consist in helping to reduce ticket printing/mailing costs, increasing revenue by enlarging accessibility of tickets and improving railway branding. For the clients, they will now be able to book an international ticket anywhere, any time.

One of the measures discussed during the first meeting was “e-activation.” The traveller will activate the ticket directly on the smartphone, marking the ticket as used. By doing so, the traveller sends the information directly to the Train Control Operator, confirming that the ticket has been used.

The workgroup invites representatives of other railway companies to attend their meeting which provides, according to Sarfatti, “a good sense of emulation and discussion” and “allows participants to better apprehend the different specifications. This will help additional cooperation in the future.” Indeed, companies will introduce during each meeting their own sets of specifications for mobile ticketing.

The URT group will meet every month until June 2014. The next meeting will take place in Brussels on 19 December. Deutsche Bahn will lead the presentations.

For further information please contact Marc Guigon: and Fabrice Setta:

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UIC participates in an extraordinary session of the UNECE-UNESCAP Working Party 1 (WP1) on road traffic safety (New Delhi, 4 – 6 December)

From 4 – 6 December 2013, UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) together with UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) invited delegates from UNECE and UNESCAP member states together with the UNECE Road Safety Forum Members to participate in an extraordinary session of the Working Party 1 (WP1) on road traffic safety to take place in Faridabad, near New Delhi. This session was hosted by Dr Rohit Baluja, Director of IRTE, the Indian Institute of Road Traffic Education. The Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) is a non-profit research based organisation formed in December 1991 by an interdisciplinary group composed of experts in education, from the automotive industry, architects, doctors, journalists, engineers, ex-militaries, police forces… with a single goal to make Indian roads safer for their users.

The event was supported by IRU (International Road Transport Union) and FIA Foundation. For more information on the documents of the meeting:

130 delegates from 37 countries participated in this event organised for the very first time in Asia since the creation of the UNECE WP1.

WP1 including government officials representing member states of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) were invited to take an active role during the inaugural Europe-Asia Road Safety Forum, the purpose being to ease the participation of Asian countries and facilitate the exchange of experience as far as road safety is concerned.

Mrs Luciana Iorio, Chairperson of the WP1 chaired this session: “I am particularly proud to be here today for the very first meeting of the Europe-Asia Road Safety Forum”.
Dr Rohit Baluja, Director of IRTE said: “It is an honour to formally welcome all participants and speakers for the first time today in India. I recently travelled to Germany, I could compare the way Indians living in Germany drive there and the way they drive in India. Nothing to compare, Indians in Germany respect traffic rules, which is not the case in India, this shows that this is not completely a question of culture. IRTE has been conducting much research on traffic management. A good traffic management system brings to better road safety.”

Other distinguished persons spoke in the opening session: Mr G.K. Pillai (former Union Home Secretary, Government of India, IRTE Advisor), Mr Vijay Chhibber (Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways), Mr Oscar Fernandes (Union Transport Minister, Government of India),
Dr Eva Molnar (Director, Transport Division, UNECE) and finally Mr Dong-Woo Ha (Director, Transport Division, UNESCAP).
Mr G.K. Pillai stressed the importance of the Road Safety Forum and regretted that there is not too much political support for road safety issues in his country, despite the high number of fatalities in India.

Mr Dong-Woo Ha, Director of the Transport Division (UNESCAP: ) said:

Road safety in the Asian region is a real challenge. According to a WHO publication 777,000 persons died in 2010 in ESCAP region, this represents 60% of all road fatalities in the world. There is a link between the number of accidents and the quality of the road infrastructure. Improving road infrastructure will improve road safety. People travel not only across one country but beyond. We want to improve the road infrastructure in the Asia pacific region.

Mrs Eva Molnar, Director Transport Division (UNECE) said:

Since the creation of the UNECE Road Safety Forum this is the very first time that we have met in Asia, our Working Party on road traffic safety is one of the 17 working groups of the UNECE Transport Committee. This group deals with the Convention on road signs and signals and the Convention on road traffic signed in Vienna in 1968.
I particularly thank Mr Baluja, as well as his wife and daughter for their support and enthusiasm.
The US delegation, represented by the keynote speaker David L. Strickland, NHTSA Administrator is a constant member in this group.

Mr David L. Strickland, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ( and keynote speaker informed that NHTSA signed an MoU with IRTE this morning and said:

Even if road traffic has been growing in the US and the number of registered cars also, we succeeded in reducing road crashes by 25% within the last four years. Road crashes are the number 10 killer in the USA and the number 9 in India. 150,000 people have been saved thanks to seat belts over the last decade. Fatalities and injuries have been reduced by 86% by wearing seat belts. Air bags have been also very useful. 90% of all accidents are caused by human errors. Technology can support human behaviour.”
Mr Oscar Fernandes said: “There are 1.3 million fatalities in the world, three quarters of these fatalities occur in low income or emerging countries likes India. The big concern is in particular vulnerable users like motorbike users. He reminded that in addition to road infrastructure improvements, Education, Enforcement has to be also better implemented.

The rest of the session was dedicated to panel discussions, exchange of experience and best practice through presentations made by delegates mainly from Asian countries (Islamic Republic of Iran, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, etc…), as well as from most European countries, Russia, ...

Side events were also organised: an exhibition of photos taken by two artists who travelled by car about 17,000 km (10,600 miles) over 55 days last summer from Calais in France to Ridder in Kazakhstan following the E40, one of the main international roads conceived by the United Nations as part as a coordinated plan for the development of international road traffic in Europe after the Second World War.

The second side event was an exhibition by a Dutch company VIA working closely with IRTE on research projects and particularly on an application to upload on mobile phones that helps drivers to anticipate dangerous situations in a timely manner.

During the last day session under item 8 of the agenda, UIC and Indian Railways had the opportunity to deliver a presentation on the road/rail interface (level crossing) and safety related issues.

Mr Alok Kumar, Director of Safety at Indian Railways in Delhi gave an overview of level crossing safety on Indian Railways and informed the participants of their active participation in ILCAD.

Isabelle Fonverne, UIC, gave a presentation on the worldwide situation and informed the participants of an awareness campaign on level crossing safety coordinated by UIC named ILCAD in which India among 44 other countries were involved again in 2013: visit our website and the part dedicated to India:,184.html

This extraordinary session of WP1 in Delhi was again the opportunity for the railways to be part of work led by the road sector and to create new links with delegates with the same concerns and goals as the railways: promote Engineering solutions to improve safety, organise awareness campaigns to inform and Educate people to drive or cross in a safer way, and finally implement Enforcement measures where Education has failed or is not sufficient.

Finally Dr Eva Molnar reported on the creation of a group of experts on improving safety at level crossings at UNECE in Geneva – the kick off meeting will be held on 20 January 2014 in Geneva. Delegates from the 56 member states, members of UNECE, level crossing safety experts, UNECE working parties on road traffic safety and on railways have been invited to take part.

A separate interview was also organised at the initiative of IRTE with the National Highways Authority of India (road sector), the Indian Railways and UIC to discuss future collaboration between the road and rail sector in India to improve safety at level crossings in this huge country with the second largest railway network in Asia.

For further information please contact Isabelle Fonverne:

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