Tuesday 17 July 2018

6th Global Rail Freight Conference in Genoa addressed the main challenges in global logistics

“Modal Integration at the Service of Global Distribution”

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From 26 – 28 June 2018, the 6th UIC Global Rail Freight Conference (GRFC), one of the leading events dedicated to rail freight transport and logistics at world level, was held in Genoa, Italy, at the historic venue of Palazzo Ducale. This event, prepared in a close cooperation between UIC and Italian Railways FS Italiane, is a landmark for all actors of the logistics chain. Genoa is the south terminal of the Rhine-Alpine Corridor, one of nine multimodal TEN-T Corridors under development to boost the growth and competitiveness of the European economy in a sustainable way and a port open to world trade.

For one-and-a-half days, representatives of institutions, companies and the logistics world exchanged and debated on the following main challenges over the course of seven sessions:

  • Mega Trends in Global Logistics
  • The race towards sustainability
  • Sustainable finance
  • Blockchain technology
  • Globalisation, Innovation and Connectivity
  • Rail freight corridor developments and the new Silk Roads
  • Integrity of the Logistics Chain

Session 1: Megatrends

Intramodality is a must
Collecting Big Data is not an issue anymore but data processing and analysing is the key
Legal frameworks are evolving everyday
Large focus on Asia-Europe corridors (but do not forget the flows between North America and Central and South America which are growing, and be conscious of Africa)

Session 2: Sustainability

Transport is not taken into consideration enough but it is the core of sustainable development goals
Projects exists but are developing slowly
Amount of investment is huge
Investing in infrastructure and rolling stock is costly
Think about “soft measures” such as process enhancement, language issues, IT developments.
Sustainable development is not only about environmentally-friendly measures, but also about ethical and social measures. The rail sector is generally speaking a leader on these aspects.

Session 3: Sustainable Finance

New tools now exist: Private Public Partnerships (PPP) Green Bonds, etc.
Stakeholders need to use them because public resources are not enough.

There is a need to find funding from other sectors:
Investment funds
Pension funds
Private banking

Finance flows to the transport sector are small compared to other sectors (as energy).

Session 4: Blockchain Technology

Characteristics: Transparency (complete overview of all costs, information on exact status of shipment)
Process: Competitive options such as cost, time, mode of transport, carriers, etc.
Services: Real-time location, better customer service and online administration of all bookings
Experience: to ease booking such as for road or air transport

Session 5: Globalisation, Innovation, Connectivity

Technology now helps us to go further in the areas of:
Smart Assets
Lean maintenance
Rolling stock maintenance
Fleet management
Infrastructure works better planned, smart interventions

Session 6: Rail Freight Corridor Developments and the New Silk Roads

Operators on the Europe-China corridor are financing the whole business and the growth
The 13th Five-Year-Plan at a glance – infrastructure is one of the most important future corner-stones
Eurasian rail cargo grew significantly, yet has a low intermodal market share

Session 7: Integrity of the Logistics Chain

Electronic seal-systems and electronic devices help operations people to enhance the security level of shipments featuring:

Track and trace
Rapid responses
Real time monitoring
Better costs
Better delivery delays

Rail cargo has advantages, especially on Eurasian corridors:
Faster than sea freight
Cheaper than air freight
More sustainable than air freight
Loading capacity higher than road and air freight
Security is better by rail than by road

BIC presentation: using BIC codes and Locodes helps
Track and trace
No language barriers (codes are international)
Better asset management

In CIT’s presentation, the goals were defined as follows:
One legal regime for all transport modes
Standardisation of the contractual relationship between carriers and shippers
Using the CIM consignment note (paper) and the electronic consignment note

The obstacles are:
Still lots of papers need to travel with goods (invoices, paper consignment notes, etc.)
Procedures need to be updated
Legal framework

For further information please contact Sandra Géhénot, UIC Freight Director:


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Panel 1: Megatrends
Panel 2: Sustainability
Panel 3: Sustainable Finance
Panel 4: Blockchain Technology
Panel 5: Globalisation, Innovation, Connectivity
Panel 6: Rail Freight Corridor Developments and the New Silk Roads
Panel 7: Integrity of the Logistics Chain