Mrs Eva Molnar underlines the development of fruitful cooperation between United Nations and UIC
UIC Executive Board and General Assembly chaired by President Vladimir Yakunin puts strong focus on the creation of international railway standards (IRS), the development of international transport corridors, training and educational programmes for young talents, promotion of rail research at global level, technical projects and partnerships with leading institutions
UIC, the worldwide railway association grouping 240 members from 95 countries and all five continents, held its Executive Board and 83rd General Assembly meetings on 11 and 12 December at the association’s headquarters in Paris. The Executive Board and General Assembly meetings were chaired by UIC Chairman Vladimir Yakunin, President of JSC Russian Railways (RZD) together with Mauro Moretti, UIC Vice Chairman, CEO of Italian Railways Group FS Italiane, and UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux.
Eva Molnar addresses UIC members on behalf of United Nations as keynote speaker
Mrs Eva Molnar, Director of the Transport Division at UNECE, was invited to take the floor as a keynote speaker on behalf of the United Nations.
Mrs Molnar first described the strategic priorities of the United Nation’s actions and mentioned “the 58 international transport conventions (all relating to land transport) which all serve the United Nations’ three key goals of safe, clean and efficient transport”. Further priorities for the UN relate to Unification of Rail Transport Law (in close cooperation with OTIF, UIC, CIT, EU, OSJD), improving transport safety (with a strong focus on safety at level crossings where there is continuous interaction with UIC), the development of Euro-Asian Transport Linkages, the Trans-European Railway project (TER) and the development of a High-Speed Rail Network Master Plan, e-Networks...
Following the United Nations’ “Millenium Development Goals 2000-2015” where transport issues were not included, Mrs Molnar invited UIC and the entire railway community to work closely together with the UN “to enable the voice of the rail transport family to be heard” in the 2015Agenda and the update of the paper “Transport for Sustainable Development in the UNECE Region”. Mrs Eva Molnar stressed the importance to join forces with UIC and its members to “achieve progress in all aspects of Sustainable Development: economic, environmental as well as social sustainability. The issues include better access to all international markets and transport services, making mobility and transport affordable, raising awareness of traffic safety, improving security and of course optimising environmental-friendliness (through regulations, technology, behaviour)”. She thanked UIC for the continuation of a fruitful cooperation.
UIC Chairman Yakunin’s opening address
In thanking Mrs Eva Molnar for her important message on behalf of the UN, UIC Chairman Vladimir Yakunin admitted that Sustainable Development with its social aspects must be a key issue for railways, including the illustration of the advantages of rail as one of the safest transport modes.
He then summarised the first results in the implementation of the strategic choices that he had revealed at the previous General Assembly in June.
In presenting the general evolution of the transport markets, Chairman Yakunin underlined: “it should be noted that sea and air transport have proved their stable position on the international transport market. Air carriers enjoy unified standards and a harmonised legal framework adopted by 191 countries, while the railway community has just begun to integrate into globalisation trends. Unfortunately, due to historical and technological reasons, railway transport has been more conservative to the aforementioned initiatives. Whilst it does play an important part in domestic and regional freight transportation in most countries, the volume and intensity of railway freight traffic are still inadequate. This is why today we need to do our best to implement the key ideas to increase the role of the railways that underpin all the activities of UIC through close and effective cooperation...”
The UIC Chairman put strong focus on global standardisation as one of the priorities for UIC’s actions. Currently, “the key to the successful development of international railway standards could be the coordinated work of the UIC headquarters, with major railway companies and leading international organisations which have already gained broad experience and developed solutions for harmonising technical standards and ensuring the interoperability of different gauge systems”...Therefore UIC has to further develop close cooperation with ISO on railway matters.
Another key issue for cooperation among UIC members is the development of International Transport Corridors (ITC). According to Chairman Vladimir Yakunin, “the predominant approach to planning and establishing such international corridors should involve creating the most favourable conditions for enhancing the efficiency of foreign trade transportation, and guaranteeing their compliance with international agreements and conventions. It is also important to attract new freight and passenger flows, including transit flows, to ITC’s infrastructure by offering competitive transport services...”
The Chairman underlined the important work achieved by UIC in the framework of the Security Platform, on essential issues for the protection of railway equipment and operations, prevention of terrorism…
The UIC Chairman also informed members about his discussions with the Chairmen of the six UIC Regions relating to the progress of the draft on a Global Railway Transport Development Strategy. He strongly invited all UIC members to take an active role in this important initiative, focusing on the socio-economic needs of the countries and priorities of the railway companies.
Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux presents UIC’s achievements in 2013
UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux reported on the main progresses and results of UIC activities following the general guidelines given at the previous General Assembly in June.
In 2013 the general political-financial context remains complex with growing instability in some parts of the world, in particular Africa and the Middle-East, and the impact of the ongoing financial crisis in Europe at the level of railway investment and project-funding. Nevertheless signs of economic recovery also appear in several regions of the world.
During the recent period UIC has held on to its core values of Unity, Solidarity and Universality – and to the three main principles (the three “I’s”) defined by Chairman Yakunin in June: Involvement, Integration, Innovation, with always more members and partners, and closer and more professional relations with them. UIC HQ also continued efforts to ensure a transparent and rigorous management of the projects and members’ resources.
An important development took place in 2013 at the level of the six UIC Regions. Currently, the Regions are growing in strength and leadership. According to UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, “a spectacular achievement in 2013 was the development or completion of a Strategic Vision and long-term Action Plan for each of the UIC Regions. Each Regional Assembly, in involving its members, managed to produce – or will publish very soon – a strategic document which provides a coherent overview of all developments and challenges for rail transport projects in the region, taking into account geography, demography, economy, the transport policy framework and rail transport projects planned at national or regional dimension.
This collection of Strategic Action Plans, once completed, will offer an essential basis for future negotiations or agreements with international organisations, financial institutions or other potential partners”...
UIC also made progress in the conclusion of new partnerships, Memoranda of Understanding or agreements. Since 2009, 30 MoUs have been signed in the fields of economics, social issues, education, finance, regional development. The latest MoUs to be signed are with BSEC (Black Sea Economic Cooperation), MIIT (Moscow State University of Railway Engineering), CRT/CIS and the Kazakh Academy of Transport. According to Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, “I would stress the value of the agreements we have with those partners whose corporate structure precludes UIC membership but which can support our actions in various regions at global level.”
UIC is also stepping up its continuous cooperation with leading international organisations, United Nations and its specialised bodies – ECOSOC, UNEP, UNFCCC for the Climate Change conferences – or regional structures such as UNECE, UNESCAP,.. A number of joint actions in this context will be implemented from January 2014.
Relating to technical projects and activities led or coordinated by UIC, the level of activity was particularly high in the first half of 2013 and there was no decrease in the second half of this year.
Since 2009, over 250 projects have been run across the world. UIC has led or partnered over 50 technical projects funded by the European Union, demonstrating the credibility of UIC vis-à-vis the European Commission in terms of technical and managerial professionalism.
Strong focus was placed in 2013 on the development of International Railway Standards (IRS) for which a specific budget was approved. Another priority for UIC HQ was the development of a strategy for training and educational programmes for young talents with high potential, e.g. the TALENT project.
In 2013 almost 50 global events (congresses, conferences, seminars and workshops) with high added-value for members were held in 25 cities, bringing together more than 5,000 people.
The leading events were the 4th NEXTSTATION international conference on railway stations jointly organised with Russian Railways in October in Moscow and the 10th World congress on railway research WCRR in Sydney with UIC as a co-organiser.
Finally UIC HQ continued to work on the further development and optimisation of the corporate communications system targeted at members, decision-making institutions, partner associations and a large number of external bodies. The UIC communications system includes the weekly newsletter ’UIC e-News’ (with links to videos, speeches,..), media information, the UIC website (65,000 clicks per month), a large scope of publications, benchmark of audiovisual productions in the framework of the CineRail event,..
Progress in the fields of Standardisation, Rail Research, Education and International Training
The General Assembly took stock of the overall strategy of the standardisation issue and the progress of the activities implemented under the auspices of the UIC Standardisation Platform. The main objective is to develop a number of International Railway Standards (IRS) – partly based on the content of the 700 UIC Technical Leaflets – for distribution at global level.
The Standardisation issue must also consider an optimal compatibility between 1520 mm and 1435 mm gauge systems. In this context three working groups were composed with the active involvement of UIC, OSJD and the CRT/CIS (Council of Rail Transport of CIS countries). Chairman Yakunin insisted that the different railway gauges exist and that the gap has to be bridged in terms of standardisation.
The General Assembly was also informed of cooperation with the international standard bodies IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation).
A cooperation agreement was prepared with IEC and submitted to IEC members. Progress is also expected in cooperation between ISO and UIC as the association representing the professional rail sector worldwide.
Coordination of the UIC’s worldwide activities related to railway research is undertaken by the International Rail Research Board (IRRB) chaired by Mr Boris Lapidus, Director-General of VNIIZhT/RZD, Russia, with a representation of leading research institutes from the various parts of the world.
The General Assembly welcomed the renaissance of the IRRB and the implementation of the global Railway Research Portal and approved the new governance proposed for IRRB, with Mr Lapidus being renewed as the Chairman and five Vice Chairmen nominated or confirmed: Vicki Brown (ARA, Australia), Hans-Peter Lang (DB), Jaroslav Grim (Czech Republic), Andy Doherty (Network Rail, UK), Guven Kandemir (TCDD, Turkey).
The activities report (including IRRB Action Plan) was approved as well as the opening of affiliate membership to scientific providers/universities.
Members were also informed of the preparation of the 2nd edition of the UIC Global Research and Innovation Awards to be delivered in 2014 with a focus on young talented researchers.
The issue of International Training and Education was presented in the Director General’s report as a key issue for UIC. Chairman Vladimir Yakunin stressed the strategic importance of training younger generations and giving them access to educational and training programmes delivered by the best schools or universities at international level. One of the objectives is to offer to young railway staff or managers opportunities to exchange and communicate – professionally and socially – in the framework of international training programs, and to create a UIC Global Network of Railway Talents.
In this regard, the General Assembly approved the TALENT project’s generic approach, and its various training instruments, including:
- the SIAFI international training sessions,
- the evolution of IRSMI to a Global Railway Executive MBA through networking with well-known business schools in France (EM Lyon), China, USA and Russia (MIIT, Moscow)
- the Global Research and Innovation Awards
Chairman Yakunin stressed the importance for UIC members to strongly support the TALENT strategy and the Global MBA project currently being prepared and commit themselves to ensure success. He congratulated UIC on the coherence and ambition of this new approach.
The UIC General Assembly also approved the creation of a Special Group Agreement on Technical Transfer Inspection for Freight Wagon Exchange (ATTI).
Activities Reports by the Chairmen of the six UIC Regions
Activities reports were presented by Chairmen of the 6 UIC Regions or their representatives: achievements for 2013 and action plans for 2014 were presented for the Regional Assemblies for Africa, Asia, North America and Latin America, Europe and the Middle-East. Chairman Vladimir Yakunin congratulated the progress registered in each UIC Region and the contribution of each region to a Global Railway Transport Development Strategy for the future.
The Strategic Action Plans for Europe – together with its “Rail Technical Strategy Europe”, Asia, the Middle-East, Latin America and soon Africa – can be obtained on request from the UIC Communications Department.
An important international event prepared with Moroccan State Railways (ONCF) on 6 March 2014 on the occasion of their anniversary (100 years of railways in Morocco, 50 years of ONCF), will provide a unique opportunity to present and discuss the development strategies of all six UIC Regions.
Finances, new membership
Members of the UIC General Assembly unanimously approved information on the expected results for 2013 as well as the 2014 UIC headquarters budget with the related membership fees.
Members welcomed the stability of the budget which takes into account the difficult economic and financial context in many countries.
Members of the General Assembly also unanimously welcomed a series of new UIC members:
- Malaysian Land Transport Regulator (SPAD)
- Beijing Jiatong University (BJTU)
- FoxRail, Hungarian freight operator
- Koleje Wielkopolskie (KW), Polish regional passenger operator
- Unioni Interporte Riuniti, Italian Logistics association
In the Middle-East:
Afghanistan Railways (ARAf). In addressing the UIC members, the Ambassador of Afghanistan mentioned the important role that his national railway would be keen to play in the restoration of the “Silk Road”.
Members were also informed that Chinese Railways (CR) was split into two companies, National Railway Administration (NRA) and Chinese Railway Corporation (CR), both maintaining active membership within UIC.
On the other hand, Holding BDZ EAD from Bulgaria informed that it would represent both BDZ-Passenger and BDZ-Cargo as the sole UIC member.
Main global railway events to be held under the UIC umbrella and next UIC General Assembly
UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux reminded members that a number of leading international railway events organised by UIC and its members would take place in the next period.
He invited all members to attend and take an active part – with CEOs and speakers – in these world-famous events, in particular:
- International Round Table “Railways: Past, Present and Future”, Anniversary of ONCF, joint ONCF/UIC organisation, 6 March 2014, Casablanca, Morocco,
- 11th UIC ERTMS World Conference, UIC/TCDD, 1 – 4 April 2013, Istanbul, Turkey
- 4th UIC Global Rail Freight Conference GRFC, UIC/ÖBB, 23 – 25 June 2014, Vienna, Austria
- 9th UIC HIGHSPEED World Congress on High-Speed Rail, UIC/EJR, 7 – 10 July 2015, Tokyo
- 11th WCRR, World Congress on Rail Research, May – June 2016, Milan, Italy
- 5th NEXTSTATION International Conference on Railway Stations, UIC/ONCF, 2016, Marrakech, Morocco.
The next UIC General Assembly will be held from 26 – 27 June 2014 in Portoroz, Slovenia.
An opportunity for UIC to be back in the place where in 1921, on the occasion of a diplomatic conference, the idea was proposed by the Romanian delegation to create an international Railway Organisation, the UIC, which was established in Paris in 1922. Mr. Robert Rožič, Secretary General of Slovenian Railways (SZ) warmly welcomed all UIC members to attend the next General Assembly in this beautiful location on the Adriatic Sea.
Video message of Nives Juvančič Kambur, International Affairs Coordinator of Slovenian Railways, on behalf of Dušan Mes, Director General, Slovenske železnice (SZ)
- Flash Video - 8.1 MbSee the document
Closing of the Assembly
President Vladimir Yakunin in closing the General Assembly warmly thanked all members and congratulated the UIC Director General and all the HQ team for the work achieved and progress made on all the essential issues of the agenda.
After the closing of the General Assembly, a photo exhibition was officially inaugurated at the UIC headquarters by President Vladimir Yakunin and Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, in the presence of the Russian photographer Anton Lange. The photo exhibition illustrates Russia today and Russia 100 years ago (for the 10th anniversary of JSC Russian Railways RZD).
Vladimir Yakunin offered UIC a number of these photographs illustrating magnificent landscapes in Russia. This gift will enrich the heritage and gift collection from UIC members which has been incorporated into the UIC Paris headquarters since its inauguration in 1963.