A TopRail workshop was held on 8 June at UIC headquarters.
30 participants from 13 different countries were present.
Among the participants were railway representatives from Europe (Ireland Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Slovakia, Poland, France, Spain), China, Korea and Japan and also a delegation from Russia. Specialised tour operators were also represented by Belmond, Railtour Ireland First Class and RDZ Tour as well as the OECD, Paris University and the European Federation of Museums and Tourist Railways among other experts on the subject.
The workshop was opened by Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of UIC, and led by Mr Carles Cases (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Spain), Chairman of the TopRail group. UIC was represented by Iñaki Barrón, Director of the Passenger and High Speed Department, Marc Guigon, Senior Advisor, Marie-Luz Philippe, Advisor for Sustainable Development, Jozef Fazik, in charge of RIC, and Vanessa Pérez, Advisor for Passenger Transport.
In the context of steadily growing international tourism, TopRail’s objective is to promote railway products by increasing the visibility of quality services and encouraging railway tourism opportunities.
This workshop was a chance to provide and receive input from railway and tourism experts and to move forward on the creation of a stable network regarding opportunities for tourism in the railways.
In the words of UIC’s CEO, Mr Loubinoux, TopRail is a commitment to address the challenge of facing the future of railways not only from the nostalgic point of view that special trains can provide but also to support tourist experiences on railways as a strategic framework for ensuring an attractive and positive image of railways in the next generations.
The attendees agreed that a real interest exists in working together and cooperating in the field of tourism opportunities for railway passengers. UIC, as the home of the international railway community, is in a privileged position to act as a catalyst between the railway industry and tourism. TopRail will be the perfect tool to create a strong network focus on the development of new opportunities for tourism experiences in the railways.
The outcomes of the TopRail projects will be the creation of a dedicated website, some studies about the market, and the organisation of workshops and conferences to enhance the awareness of tourist possibilities in the railways.
The next meeting will be held in July 2016 to prepare the following and further concrete steps.