The first meeting of the new College of members comprising the European Management Committee (EMC) met in Paris on 10 March under the Presidency of Bernard Guillelmon (BLS, Switzerland).
This was also the first meeting of Messrs A .Vehviläinen (FTA), Chairman of EIM and Vice President of the European Region, F. Nicolas Puiggari (ADIF) and M Chiper (CFR).
Innovating the future European railway system
The core focus was on the important topic of how the sector and the ROC in particular, can innovate the direction in which the railway system needs to head in order to face competition from other modes. It is proposed that the principle issues of researching innovative solutions for the future, preparing standards and the general role of standardisation and digitalisation could be developed by a small think tank of volunteer CEOs to clearly define what the priorities are for the next 3 – 5 years.
There are considerable opportunities for the ROC but these opportunities can only be maximised if there is collective development. The current sector thinking that has been captured in Challenge 2050 and the Rail Technical Strategy Europe needs to evolve and the bodies that are supporting the ROC in these ambitions, ERRAC and UIC’s own RICG (Research and Innovation Coordination Group), properly resourced and motivated.
The Presidents of ERRAC (Andy Doherty, Network Rail) and the RICG (Bo Olsson, Trafikverket) outlined the core issues from their perspective, how those bodies are evolving and how they are sharing their thinking between them.
The meeting agreed that there is an important task to be done regarding the development of the digital agenda and that the CEO Task Force needs to act as catalyst to really energise the ROC to say what it wants and to innovate faster. There is the need to use technology to reduce costs and improve performance. The associations are there to produce ideas but ultimately it is the rail companies that need to implement them.
Reinforcing the operational structure
The meeting also debated the development of the quality management approach for developing and delivering the projects undertaken by UIC to support the innovation of the future European railway system.
It also focused some attention on the relationship between UIC and the International and European Standardisation Bodies, IEC, ISO and CEN-CENELEC. The agreement with the IEC was put in place in 2015 and there has been some good progress with ISO. The links with CEN-CENELEC are also evolving well with recent discussions reaching some good conclusions and some identified next steps.
The RAE Chairman strongly emphasised the need for a coordinated approach to rail research and innovation as a key in developing and maintaining a sustainable and competitive transportation system and a cohesive standardisation programme that ensures that rail is the transportation backbone of the EU economy.
The UIC’s European team is here to help achieve those objectives.