Delegates were welcomed to the meeting by László Mosoczi, Secretary of State for Transport (Ministry of Innovation and Technology – ITM) and Robert Homolya, CEO of MAV Hungarian Railways.
The meeting was opened by Regional President Francisco Cardoso dos Reis (IP, Portugal) along with his vice-presidents, Edvins Berzins (Latvia), Crister Fritzson, Sweden and Erik-Jan Koening, representing Pier Eringa, Holland.
There were a number of high level core topics discussed at the meeting, not least amongst which, the recently published “Railway Technical Strategy Europe - 2019” (RTSE) which sets out the ROC (Railway Operating Community) vision for future mobility with railways as the backbone of the European transportation system. RTSE highlights a number of enablers requiring action to make this vision a reality but of course delivery of the objectives is important. The meeting considered the development trends and challenges that the RTSE sets out and agreed that a three-year rolling regional programme for delivering the content of RTSE be developed.
This three-year rolling programme will provide guidance to the working bodies in terms of prioritising research, innovation and standardisation items and will further support the members-led project within UIC, of which 2018 was a productive year. It will also enable the ROC to provide a developed contribution to a number of strategic issues including the Shift2Rail programme both now and in the new generation.
With respect to Shift2Rail, the RAE stakeholders are actively preparing to influence the content of this potentially massive partnership, thinking over its governance as well so as to offer a solid ROC contribution towards a fruitful partnership. The European Railway Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) will be pivotal in elaborating a common sector position and UIC, as its Secretary and leader of its three working groups through members, will do everything possible to support this process.
Standardisation was also considered with attention, starting with a review of the current status of the migration programme of leaflets to IRS. This is progressing steadily and there is an intention to accelerate the process where possible to meet the 2022 deadline, taking into account the quantity of documents yet to be migrated. The good relationships with a number of standardisation bodies and organisations were highlighted (among which CEN, CENELEC, IEC and ISO) and the UIC is looking forward to further strengthen the links with these entities.
The meeting was presented with the wide range of topics that are being put forward as part of the 2020 European Work Programme. An update was provided on the evolution of the Projects Database and the progress reporting that is contained with it.
Educating the next generation of railway personnel is a very important task and the meeting was informed of the progress to date about the VERA programme (Virtual European Railway Academy). There will be a more detailed overview of the outcomes of this towards the end of this year.
Region Europe was pleased to see the European ROC family growing with the applications of Keolis (France) as associate member, University of Pardubice (Czech Republic) and ASTOC (Sweden) as affiliate members. The Regional Assembly also took note of the call for candidates for the renewal of its Management Committee for the next 2020-2021 term that will be launched in early July.
Before closing the meeting, Mr Cardoso dos Reis expressed his deepest thanks on behalf of Region Europe and the ROC to Jean-Pierre Loubinoux for his successful 11-year commitment to supporting railway development over the world as Director-General of UIC.