The 2014 event organised by UIC and CER to meet the European Rail Passenger CEOs was held on 7 and 8 October in Utrecht, following the kind invitation of NS – Dutch Railways. This year, the chosen venue was the Utrecht Railway Museum, to celebrate the 175th anniversary of railways in the Netherlands.
The event was attended by around 50 people in total and started on the evening of 7 October, with a welcome presentation by Timo Huges, CEO of NS, a quick but very interesting visit to the recently upgraded museum and an official dinner, surrounded by historical trains.
The dinner was attended by Olivier Onidi, Director of the “European Mobility Network” at the European Commission.
The meeting itself was held on 8 October in the museum’s meeting room, chaired by Barbara Dalibard, CEO of France’s SNCF Voyages (“travel” branch) and was co-led by Jean-Pierre Loubinoux (UIC Director General), Libor Lochman (Executive Director of CER) and Marjon Kaper, CEO of NS International.
The main subjects chosen for the discussion (a preparatory meeting was held in April) were the Missed Connections project and Ticketing.
The first issue was a business approach, in spite of the liberalisation process, on possible cooperation among European railway operators to take care of passengers in the event of missed connections or service disruptions when multiple railway carriers are involved. A pilot project of action was agreed within the next three months.
The second subject is particularly vital for European railway passenger operators, due to technological (IT) development and also a consequence of liberalisation and the emerging priorities linked to TV (“ticket vendors”) and GDS (“Global Distribution Systems”). This issue is particularly important in an international context, due to the various approaches of the passenger market concept in the different countries and consequently the differences in ticketing and distribution needs. Negotiations aimed towards signing a Memorandum of Understanding to create a Full Service Model (FSM) initiative are still being held.
The meeting was also partly attended by Fergal Kelly, Vice-President of Travelport, one of the most important GDS, who also networked during the coffee break, and Andreas Boschen, Head of Department CEF (“Connecting Europe Facility”) at the European Commission, who gave a presentation on European Commission funding programmes and also spent time with attendees during the lunch break.