Important UIC RAME conference on Railway Interoperability to be held in Qatar, ERTMS regional workshop in Jordan
The 13th Meeting of the UIC Regional Assembly for the Middle-East (UIC RAME) was held on 8 May in Ankara at the kind invitation of Turkish State Railways (TCDD) and under the chairmanship of Mr Süleyman Karaman, Director-General of TCDD and Chairman of the UIC Middle-East Region.
The Meeting followed a joint TCDD/UIC joint Seminar on Rail Safety and Security also held in Ankara from 6 – 7 May (report on this joint TCDD/UIC Seminar in next week’s UIC “e-News”).
Together with Chair railway TCDD, the following railways were represented at this RAME Meeting: RAI from Iran (Mr Khodaie), 1st RAME Vice chair railway, Aqaba Railway ARC (Mr Hussein Krishan, RAME Vice Chairman ) and JHR (Mr Salah Al Louzi from Jordan Hejaz Railway), Niroo Rail Transport NRT Co from Iran (Mr Gholamreza Mehryar), Mr Yamma Shams, Director General of Afghanistan Railway Authority (AfRA) admitted as a new UIC Member in December 2013 and who attended for the first time, Qatar Rail (Eng. Saad Bin Ahmed Al Muhannadi, CEO) for one part of the meeting.
The UIC Regional Office for the Middle-East was represented by its Director Mr Abbas Nazari from RAI, UIC by Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux and Middle-East Coordinator Paul Véron.
On opening the 13th RAME Meeting, Mr Süleyman welcomed all participants to Turkey and reviewed the main rail achievements and projects which underline the impressive dynamism of rail transport in the region, in Turkey as well as in several networks in the region.
He also expressed the wish that the political and social situation can be stabilized in a number of countries in the Middle-East, allowing cooperation and rail development projects to be restarted in an effective way.
Taking the floor, UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux warmly thanked Mr Karaman and Turkish Railways for their invitation to Ankara. He emphasised that “every time when members are invited to a country with very strong cultural identity, it is shared by all members from the region who share a rich heritage from the history as well as a common vision for the future. And this is the backbone of UIC, the transmission of values to create unity. Rail development and rail values are stronger than what can divide and it is our common objective to create a world of efficient and free mobility…”
Mr Loubinoux reviewed the main results from the 12th RAME Meeting at the Dead Sea in Jordan and reminded participants of the presence of the Minister of Transport of the Kingdom of Jordan, Dr Lina Shabeeb, who underlined the essential role that UIC has to play for the members in the region: implementing a shared railway vision, achieving interoperability through common standards, helping members to gain support from international organisations and financial institutions, assisting them through training programmes.
The UIC Director-General also congratulated the UIC Regional Office for the Middle-East led by Mr Abbas Nazari for all the important and valuable results obtained since the last meeting in Jordan.
The major achievement is the finalisation of the “Strategic Action Plan 2013-2020 for the Middle-East railways”. This strategic vision was complemented and updated in close cooperation with all members in the Region.
It offers for the first time a coherent presentation of all projects in the Region, including multimodal connections and international routes or corridors.
The UIC Regional Office also distributed at the meeting the updated report “Regional and Supra-Regional Rail Transportation Linkages – Middle East”.
Next steps will include the development of a communications plan for the appropriate dissemination of these two strategic documents which will contribute to raising the credibility and influence of the UIC Middle-East Region towards all decision-making bodies and organisations.
In his opening address, Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux invited members from the region to be fully associated with UIC’s global projects. He mentioned as an example the TALENT Strategy for Expertise Development which was approved at the last UIC General Assembly and includes the creation of a rail MBA in close partnership with a series of leading business schools and universities.
2013-2014 Action Plan for UIC Middle-East
After a comprehensive presentation by Mr Abbas Nazari of the 2013-2014 results of the UIC Regional Office (reports, contacts with institutions, website, etc.), future actions for the UIC Middle-East Region were presented and commented on by Regional Office Director Mr Nazari, and UIC Coordinator for the Middle-East Mr Paul Véron, and submitted to the Directors-General for approval.
In addition to efficient communication based on the UIC Middle-East Strategic Vision and Action Plan 2013-2020, the UIC RAME Region will organise a number of activities in the shape of conferences, seminars, workshops relating to the priority issues previously defined by member railways.
On political and strategic issues, UIC RAME will participate in the international conference of COTIF (in cooperation with ECO) planned to be held from 29 – 30 September 2014 in Tehran.
TCDD will invite a UIC RAME International Business Seminar (Investors Forum) to be held in Antalya in the second half of 2015.
Iranian Railways (RAI) will invite a joint Rail/Ports and Oil/Rail international conference to be hosted in June 2015 in Tehran.
On issues of seamless operations and interoperability, an important UIC RAME conference on Rail Interoperability and Standards is planned at the invitation of Qatar Rail QR in Doha, at a date to be confirmed (mid-November). This conference would be coupled with the 14th UIC Middle-East Directors-General Meeting. The conference will be focusing on technical, operational, legal, commercial and human interoperability in the Region, as well as asset management issues.
Following the successful 11th UIC ERTMS World conference jointly organised by UIC with TCDD in Istanbul in April 2014, the wish was expressed by members from the region to hold a dedicated ERTMS workshop for the Middle-East members, to discuss ETCS, GSM-R, SATLOC, etc. This seminar will be hosted by Jordanian railways (ARC and JHR) in October 2014 at the Dead Sea and coupled with the UIC RAME Infrastructure Working Group.
In the field of cooperation on technical issues, the Directors-General approved in principle the following events:
- a RAI/UIC Seminar on Passenger and High Speed issues, open to all RAME Members planned on 30 August – 1 September 2014 in Tehran,
- UIC RAME Rail Safety Working Group, date to be confirmed in June 2014 in Tehran,
- UIC RAME Rail Safety and Security Seminar, follow-up of Ankara Seminar (6 – 7 May 2014), date and location in 2015 to be confirmed,
- UIC RAME Infrastructure Maintenance-Desert Operations Working Group, coupled with ERTMS Regional workshop, October 2014 at the Dead Sea, Jordan.
Mr Adem Kayis, Deputy Director-General of TCDD, then reported on activities of the Middle-East Railways Training Centre (MERTCe) completed in 2013 or planned for 2014 and 2015.
Whenever possible, a connection will be made between the technical training workshops and the MERTCe programmes.
Finally Mr Abbas Nazari also informed the Directors-General about the efforts to attract new members to the UIC Middle-East Region and so increase the UIC RAME representativeness and credibility vis-à-vis partners and stakeholders.