The 21st UIC Regional Assembly for Europe (RAE) – bringing together 119 members – and the European Management Committee (EMC) of UIC held their meetings on 30 December 2015 at UIC Paris headquarters prior to the UIC Executive Board and the General Assembly.
Mr Bernard Guillelmon, CEO of BLS, elected as Chairman of the European Region for 2016 – 2017
Due to the recent resignation of the entire board of Italian Railways FSI, Mr Michele Elia – CEO of FSI and European Region Chairman –could not be present on 30 November to chair the meeting. He nonetheless addressed a thankful message to UIC and all its European members reassessing the firm and continuous commitment of FSI to all its obligations and to the development of the future European railway system.
Because of these exceptional circumstances and in line with UIC Statutes, Mr. Bernard Guillelmon – CEO of BLS and Vice-Chairman of the UIC European region – chaired both the EMC and the RAE sessions in conjunction with UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux assisted by Simon Fletcher, UIC Coordinator for Europe.
The new governance for 2016-2017 was an important item on the agenda. It was noted that the call for candidates to constitute the new EMC for the years 2016-2017 had resulted in a very representative list of active members of the European region being received. Based on those applications and taking account of last minute developments, the following composition of the EMC has been unanimously accepted by the RAE and will guarantee the necessary stability and consistency in the present context for European Regional developments:
Chairman: Mr Bernard Guillelmon (BLS), Switzerland
Vice-Chairman (UIC): Mr F. Cardoso dos Reis (IP), Portugal
Vice-Chairman (CER Chairman): Mr C. Kern (ÖBB), Austria
Vice-Chairman (EIM Chairman): Mr A. Vehviläinen (FTA), Finland
Members with dual CER/UIC membership: Mr R. Cobbe (ATOC), UK, Mr R. Grube (DB), Germany, Mr G. Pepy (SNCF) France, Mr M. Queiro (CP), Portugal, Mr D. Costescu (CFR), Romania, and Ms I. David (MÁV), Hungary
Mr Mazzoncini (FSI), Italy
Members with dual EIM/UIC membership: Mr F. Puiggari (ADIF), Spain, Mr L. Lallemand (Infrabel), Belgium, and Mr F. Cardoso dos Reis (IP), Portugal in his capacity as EIM Vice-Chair
Member (non-CER / EIM): Mr B. Belozerov (RZD), Russian Federation
4th Executive Board member (Central and Eastern Europe): Mr J. Karnowski (PKP), Poland (to note that in an even more recent development the Board of PKP Group is also about the change. A new name will be presented shortly)
It was also agreed that for the first time, the ERRAC Chairman – Mr A. Doherty (Network Rail), UK – would be invited to attend EMC meetings in an observer capacity.
A region developing together through the UIC
The UIC RAE approved the 2016 work programme of ongoing and new projects, voicing its commitment for successful results and further developments for the collective benefit of European railways.
Following a number of security events earlier this year, the European Management Committee had requested that some security developmental work be initiated. The UIC Security Platform had put together a short term high intensity programme that will be very collaborative and link security with interoperability. It was agreed that this 18 month programme will concentrate on EU issues but will be developed at global level so as to get maximum possible benefit for the wider rail community.
With a view to ensuring the highest quality for the work delivered at the UIC, the latest developments of the Quality Management System (QMS) procedures were presented to the members. Efforts concentrated on the opt-in process which has been improved with the addition of a new tool to smooth it through enhanced selection of ideas. Equally, the new project database should be functional from 2016 for a complete access to past and ongoing projects. Last but not least, UIC staff and members have and will continue to receive training in QMS codes and procedures. Europe is the pilot region for this programme with the plan to roll this out to the other regions in due course.
Reinforcing the regional strategy
Mr Simon Fletcher, UIC Coordinator for Europe, updated the members on the activities conducted with a small team of experts to actualise and strengthen a well-coordinated European strategy though a duo of key guideline documents.
Work on reviewing the 2014 Rail Technical Strategy Europe (RTSE) has just started. The new RTSE will be further developed to match recent developments within the European research and innovation fields and to integrate new elements such as digitalisation which were not on top of the agenda at its first publication.
Additionally, a new document – supporting the implementation of RTSE – which has been submitted to members’ approval is the new Rail Standardisation Strategy Europe (RSSE). Targeting publication for early next year, the RSSE seeks to further coordinate standardisation processes and ensures that the Railway Operating Community’s voice is heard and properly taken into account when dealing with the crucial issue of standardisation. Despite some concerns that this document is being perceived as pugilistic, the RAE acknowledged the supporting and complementary role that the ROC wishes to take and which is described through this strategy.
The new RAE Chairman emphasised the need for a clear coordination of the ROC actions in building the future European railway system – a message that was unanimously supported.
Being the forefront of rail research and innovation
Mr Bernard Guillelmon strongly emphasised the need for coordinated rail research and innovation as a key in developing and maintaining a sustainable and competitive transportation system where rail would be not only a cornerstone but the backbone. Members unanimously agreed this was a topic of core importance for the railway system. The EMC readily picked up the challenge to develop this as a key topic over the coming two years.
In light of all the changes that are happening in this important area, the RAE agreed to strengthen the coordination of research and innovation. The newly renamed Research and Innovation Coordination Group (RICG) will pick up not only the liaison with internal working bodies within the UIC but also with ERRAC and will act as the interface group for Shift2Rail and the open calls programme in particular. This body will boost opportunities in the identification and coordination capacities to deliver a consistent and ambitious vision of European rail research and innovation in line with the strategies.
Europe will be hosting the World Congress on Rail Research in May 2016 in Milan. The organisers, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane FSI, outlined the programme for the event that will bring together researchers from all over the world to Milan where the event will take place.
Europe is a dynamic region that is now starting to see some evolution following the more recent economic downturn. There are new infrastructure projects emerging as more confidence in the ability to grow the rail market share cautiously happens. The region is not yet back to pre-2008 days but the signs are positive and collaboratively the rail companies of the Rail Operating Community in Europe will be able to make rail the attractive transport option that the customer seeks.
The UIC’s Europe team is here to help achieve these objectives.