On 23 November, the UIC Freight Forum took place in Vienna at the kind invitation of Rail Cargo Group.
The meeting, chaired by Mr Ferdinand Schmidt, CEO RCG, and co-chaired by Dmitry Verbov, Head of Railway Logistics Gefco Russia, focused on three sets of issues:
- Topics impacting on rail safety
- Topics impacting on rail productivity
- Services to members
High on the agenda featured the question of safety related to wagon operation. In this context, Mr Nicolas Czernecki, Chair of the Wagon User Group, was thanked on behalf of all the representatives who collaborated towards reaching an agreement on the phrasing of Article 27 of the General Contract of Use (GCU) which governs the “damages caused by the wagon”. This new Article 27 will come into force on 1 January 2017. It establishes a more balanced system regarding damages caused by wagons and stresses the obligations of the keeper regarding the technical state of the wagon.
Following on from this, the question of rail safety was also discussed in the light of Directive (EU) 2016/798 adopted by the European Commission on 11 May 2016 as part of the Fourth Railway Package. The new text brings new perspectives regarding the obligation of the Entity in Charge of Maintenance (ECM). An impact analysis undertaken by Infrabel was presented by Mr Yvan Smets which will serve as basis for a more specific analysis of its potential impact on rail freight within the Study Group Quality.
The last safety related topic was presented by Mr François Crelo, CFL, Chair of the UIC Loading Rules Group, who gave Freight Forum members a progress update on the joint work undertaken with the International Union for Road-Rail Combined Transport (UIRR) on the harmonisation of load securing rules in order to achieve a better intermodality between rail and road whilst maintaining the same level of safety for rail transport.
On the question of productivity, several topics were presented.
Eric Lambert, CFL, Chair of the Combined Transport Group, commented on the future trailer and its potential impact on combined transport. He informed the audience of the recent trial authorisation in Germany to increase road vehicle length to 17.6m. Whilst gigaliners of 25.5m present a competition issue, they don’t really pose a technical one insofar as two craneable units are compatible with the current wagon fleet. This is however not the case for the 17.6m vehicles.
Mr Gerhard Bader, RCG and chair of the ATTI special group of UIC, was warmly thanked by the audience for the work achieved since the frounding of the group in 2015.
The group membership is composed of railways (UIC members or not) who have jointly developed a set of rules to simplify the transfer of wagons between parties whilst ensuring the highest degree of safety.
Since its creation the group has grown to over 82 participants. In January 2017 the first pilot data base of quality indicators for the ATTI members will be launched.
Under productivity improvements, the question of how digitalisation can be integrated into current processes was discussed and the emphasis was put on stronger member participation in ongoing projects and activities such as the ones relating to the electronic consignment note. Mr Juergen Maier, BLS, in charge of the question also brought to the fore the need for a pragmatic approach and mentioned the ETA initiative which stems from the Rotterdam Sector Declaration.
Finally, in the presence of colleagues from Iranian Railways, the UIC work on corridors, European and Transcontinental, was reviewed. Regarding the European Rail Freight Corridors, work is progressing within the ECCO project whilst transcontinental developments are dealt with by the Global Team of Experts who is expected to meet in the beginning of 2017.
The next Freight Forum is scheduled to take place in Paris on 18 May.