Information published on 21 February 2017 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 536.

International Railway Summit – setting the stage for future mobility needs

The home of the world’s railways plays host to a key event considering a range of challenges for the future of the railway system

  • International Conference
  • Reporting

During an intensive series of seminar sessions, round table discussions and one to one meetings in the form of a matchmaking space for rail-sector buyers and experts, senior executives representing the global community of rail transport operators (RUs and IMs), customer representatives, conceptual developers and manufacturers of rolling stock, signalling, infrastructure and other railway system components, along with national and local governments, shared their perspective of the future railway system on 16 and 17 February in Paris.

Welcoming the delegates to Paris and in opening the 4th such event organised by International Railway Journal, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, highlighted the importance of the event as a stage setter for future mobility needs, identifying customer aspirations, recognising the huge challenges that the rail transport mode has to face.

“Now, more than ever” he said, “we must collectively and collaboratively strive to ensure that rail is the customer’s land transport mode of choice.”
“A key model for the development of the railway system of tomorrow”, said Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, “is that there is no infrastructure without investment, no investment without innovation, no innovation without intelligence and no intelligence without integration”. He added: “for the years and decades to come, the rail sector has to face five main challenges in order to be successful and to be the backbone of the mobility system: developing a genuine multi-modal mobility system, taking into account a determining trend which is the perspective of transcontinental and intercontinental corridors for freight, taking benefit from the technological revolution, and especially the digital one, offering sustainable transport solutions and optimising environmental-friendliness of railway operations, without forgetting railway research, to be considered as key to ensure the innovation needed to construct a successful future for rail transport”.

Amongst the keynote speakers at the event, Guillaume Pepy, CEO of France’s SNCF, set out the multi-modal approach that SNCF is adopting in transforming mobility. During various sessions of the event, Josef Doppelbauer, Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Railways, Alain Flausch, Director General of UITP, Carlo Borghini, Executive Director of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking, Professor Andy Doherty, Chief Technical Officer, Network Rail (UK) and Simon Fletcher, Coordinator Europe (UIC) each highlighted the importance of all railway sector stakeholders collaborating in order to deliver focused innovation so as to foster maximum mobility.

There was an excellent overview of current developments in the Gulf States and in particular the exciting news that SAR will be starting operating trains on the North Line at the end of this month.

The prevailing message from all the speakers is that there is a need for a genuine multimodal system that maximises funding opportunities in order to develop a truly seamless offer for the end users.

There must be a focus on developing the transcontinental corridors for freight. Recent trials have shown that journey times can be cut by half for the same freight load when the use of rail is maximised.

The end user is now already far more a part of the overall journey due in no small measure to the growing connectivity offered by rail companies. Customers already feel much more engaged as a result and this technological revolution will also increase safety, performance, capacity and speed, this contributing to the attractiveness of rail as the land transport mode of choice.

Sustainable rail transport is a system with low or no carbon. Rail already has the advantage of being the lowest emitter of carbon amongst the land transport modes. This level of performance needs to continue and performance improved so as to deliver the COP 21 objectives and maintain rail’s leadership position.