The 14th meeting of the UIC Regional Assembly for the Middle East (UIC RAME) was held on 11 November in Tehran, at the invitation of the Railways of the I.R of Iran. The meeting was jointly chaired by Dr. Mohsen Pour Seyed Aghaie, Vice Minister of Roads and Urban Development, President of Iranian Railways (RAI), 1st Vice Chairman of UIC Middle East, together with Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of UIC. UIC Middle East Chairman Süleyman Karaman, Director General of Turkish Railways, had apologised for his absence and was represented by Mr. Adem Kayis, Deputy Director General of TCDD. Delegates from Turkish Railways, Iranian Railways, Hejaz Jordan Railways, and Afghanistan Railways were present with Pakistan Railways as guests.
In welcoming the participants, Dr Mohsen Pour Seyed Aghaie, President of Iranian Railways, indicated that the railway transport sector has its own challenges to manage and the regional forums play a very important role to enhance international cooperation and relationship: the Middle East Regional Forum was the first to be established at UIC. It has already achieved a considerable amount of work, strategic regular workshops and promising results. It is essential to boost technical cooperation.
Iranian Railways, which has been a UIC Member for 66 years is a Member of the UIC Executive Board and has shown strong commitment for many years. RAI manages the UIC Regional Office in the Middle East and has developed a strong relationship with the Union. RAI is familiar with UIC’s technical standards. In the hope that the situation in the Middle East Region can be improved, the Railways have a promising future in the Region, a genuine “renaissance” in view.
In the I.R of Iran, the government has highlighted the importance of the railway system in the country and for connections with neighbouring countries. It has given an overview on projects including a High Speed Rail system, electrification, doubling lines, and ETCS signalling. A priority is to connect the railways with major ports with the participation of the private sector.
The next important step is the inauguration in December 2014 of the new railway line (900 new km) linking Iran to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, opening a connection to China. Future railway links also concern the North/South corridor passing through Iran, the new rail corridor linking Iran-Afghanistan-Tajikistan-Kirgistan to China as well as Iran-Iraq links.
Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General underlined the importance of holding this 14th RAME Meeting in Tehran, prior to the UIC General Assembly to be held this December in Paris. He reminded the meeting that the 84th General Assembly held in Portoroz, Slovenia, the very location where the creation of UIC was decided, provided an opportunity to highlight the initial mission of UIC, of setting bridges thanks to the railways: bridges between countries and continents, bridges between economy and society, bridges between generations. At global level, seven million railway men and women serve seven billion inhabitants.
Among the most important achievements was the finalisation of the Strategic Visions for the six UIC Regions including the Middle East. This set of strategic documents will enable UIC and the rail sector to promote the achievements and projects of this transport mode at global level.
In this context, it is important to mention how UIC and the global rail sector have gained in credibility and visibility vis-à-vis leading international organisations, in particular the United Nations: invitation to participate in the UN Climate Change Summit in New York in September 2014, presentation of the Rail Commitment “The UIC Low Carbon Sustainable Rail Transport Challenge”, and appointment of Jean-Pierre Loubinoux as Member of the UN High Level Advisory Group.
The next COP 21 Climate Change Conference to be held in December 2015 in Paris will constitute a unique opportunity to coordinate actions and messages from the global rail sector on its contribution to sustainable transport and reduction of CO2 emissions. Middle East Railways should be fully involved in this world campaign.
The UIC Middle East has already completed a number of activities and results. That would not have been possible without a genuine spirit of cooperation developed in the group, a true commitment of all members and continuous efforts by the UIC Middle East Office in Tehran on behalf of all RAME Members.
Jean-Pierre Loubinoux warmly invited Member Railways of the Middle East Region to take an active part in the major events planned in the agenda:
- UIC HIGHSPEED World Congress together with the UIC General Assembly in Tokyo (7-9 July 2015);
- 5th International Conference on Railway Stations in Marrakech (22-23 October 2015);
- COP21, the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2015 in Paris.
Activities Report and Action Plan 2014-2015 for the Middle East
Mr Abbas Nazari, Director of the UIC Regional Office for the Middle East, developed the actions organised under the umbrella of the Middle East Region in 2014:
- TCDD / UIC RAME Seminar on Security and Safety related to High Speed (Ankara, 7-8 May 2014);
- UIC Workshop on Passenger Activities and High Speed Rail Traffic (Tehran, 30 August-1 September);
- 2nd Rail Safety Working Group Meeting (Tehran, 15 September 2014);
- A Training Course on RAMS and LCC in Eskisehir on 14-16 October 2014 under the umbrella of MERTCe and TCDD;
- The conference on the COTIF convention jointly organised by OTIF, ECO, UIC Middle East and RAI (Tehran, 11-12 November 2014).
The Regional Office dedicated important efforts to the update of the Strategic Action Plan for the Middle East and its complement “Regional and Supra Regional Rail Transportation linkages for the Middle-East”.
Reports on the latest railway developments were presented by the Heads of Iranian Railways (RAI), Turkish Railways (TCDD) and Afghanistan (AFra).
Paul Veron, Director, UIC Coordinator for the Middle East, presented a modified and updated version of the 2014-2015 action plan for the Middle East in the 2014-2015 term.
Activities will include:
- the UIC Middle East Conference on Railway Interoperability and Standardisation (1st quarter 2015 in Qatar);
- UIC RAME Seminar on Infrastructure and ERTMS Regional together with the 15th RAME Meeting (on 3-4 May 2015 at Dead Sea, Jordan);
- UIC RAME International Conference on Rail / Ports and Oil / Rail cooperation (in June 2015 in Iran);
- UIC RAME International Business Forum (in September 2015 in Istanbul);
- Training seminars at the Middle East Rail Training Centres (MERTCe) in cooperation with TCDD. Themes and dates for next training programmes at MERTCe in Eskisehir in 2015 will be communicated as soon as they are known.
Paul Veron also presented the 2015 draft budget for Members of the Middle East Region. This budget was approved.