As part of its 10th anniversary year, the ERA arranged a conference in Lille on 7 and 8 May with the intention to demonstrate the benefits of the European Railway Agency’s work and at the same time to address the challenges of the future.
The conference attracted in excess of 300 railway sector stakeholders and decision-makers from the Rail Operating Community (ROC), user organisations, railway equipment suppliers and political representatives from in- and outside the EU. The media were encouraged to cover the event and were present.
The UIC was represented by Simon Fletcher, Coordinator Europe, Hans-Günther Kersten, Director Rail System, Pierro Petruccioli, Head of Signalling and Telecommunications and Marc Guigon, Senior Adviser, Passenger. Other contributions to the event from the UIC were made via a range of maps and other visual information, some especially created for the event, related in particular to ERTMS.
Day 1 was devoted to an overview of what ERA has done, where it is today and where it feels the railway system in the EU is heading. The day was kicked off by a high level round table during which a video message from Jean-Pierre Loubinoux (who was not able to be present in person) was shown.
The key UIC message focused on the contribution that UIC has made as a platform for technical development and is able to make towards the interoperable rail system. With a systemic and integrated vision of the future (Challenge 2050 and the Rail Technical Strategy Europe) and the ability to develop solutions on issues such as increasing capacity, system efficiency and safety, the meeting was informed of the role that UIC plays for its members and the wider ROC in developing the European rail system of the future.
The message also focused on the core deliverables of International Railway Standards and that it is through a well-structured programme of preparing and publishing standards, coordinated by the sector, that the European legislative framework can be effectively introduced and which will then considerably facilitate the business of operating Europe’s railway system and for it to become a really strong transport backbone in Europe.
Day 2 was divided into three parallel sessions that focused on the different facets of railway safety and Interoperability, economics, removing technical barriers to interoperability and easing customer access to the network. It is in this latter category that Marc Guigon presented an overview of how the Telematics applications vision set out in the TAP TSI are progressively becoming reality.
It is worth highlighting that a significant amount of the work that has been developed by ERA for the TSIs has been undertaken on the basis of the suite of UIC standards (formerly known as Leaflets). UIC works closely with ERA to ensure that when a UIC standard is updated, that the changes the members agree to introduce are notified to ERA for inclusion in the next iteration of the TSI. This is especially becoming more relevant in the freight area where the revised TSI for freight wagons is going to focus on the core system-wide elements for interoperability and that the reliance on UIC standards for a range of other core technical aspects will be essential for system interworking.
The event offered ample opportunity for the audience to be able to participate in the various sessions as part of the Q&A sessions. ERA announced that they are planning to run another such event possibly in 2016. UIC welcomes this initiative and will be more than happy to work closely with the ERA team to ensure the development of the technical content of any such future event.
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