Modern Railways 2017 opened in Shanghai on 26 October and is a landmark in rail congresses. It is approved by the Ministry of Commerce and China Railway (CR) and is organised by China Academy of Railway Sciences (CARS). The trade exhibition, showcasing the main achievements of CR including the 18 regional railway administrations under CR, was also attended by exhibitors from around the world such as Bombardier, Siemens, Faiveley, Knorr Bremse, Huawei etc. All in all over 15 nations were present. The focus was clearly put on innovation and developments in all the fields of railway passenger and freight operation ranging from intelligent travelling, to intelligent stations, intelligent construction technologies, wheel/rail interaction technologies etc.
In parallel to the exhibition which ran over four days, a High Level Forum followed by a series of thematic seminars were organised in cooperation between China Railway, CARS and UIC. The sessions were organised under three headings:
- Railway Cooperation and Development Forum
- Intelligent Railway Forum
- New Railway Technology Forum
The High Level forum focused on Railway Cooperation and Development. It was opened by Mr Wang Tongjun, Deputy General Manager of CR, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of UIC and Mrs Xiang Xin, Ministry of Commerce.
Mr Wang Tongjun’s keynote speech underlined how railway innovation and cooperation boost the implementation of the “Belt and Road Initiative”. He shared the remarkable achievements which CR has made in the past several years, especially how the rapid development of high speed railway has driven the social and economic growth. He then stressed the importance of collaboration reiterating CR’s commitment to continue the excellent work undertaken within UIC. He gave a vision of CR including the development plan, the improvement of service quality, the research and application of new technology.The joint forum, and the cooperation between CR and UIC creates win win situations thanks to cooperation.
Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux reiterated that UIC comprises 200 members in 100 countries and is focused on interoperability, standardisation, research and asset management for the rail system. UIC is promoting rail as sustainable backbone of a new transportation mix of mobility through more than 70 conferences or workshops a year. Rail needs interoperability, high investment, space and time stability for long term projects.
Rail is now developing again in the context of the digital revolution of the 21st century and contributes to sustainable growth and GDP where it is developing. With the development of urban mobility, all modes have to work together taking into account social, economic and environmental issues. There will be major issues: renovation of infrastructure, construction of new lines, high speed lines.
Major trends can be identified as better complementarity rather than hyper competition, development of corridors, according to the OBOR initiative, being actors and vectors of the new industrial and digital revolution, sustainability of rail, research and innovation. It will contribute to social and economic growth of globalised exchanges.
The second part of the main forum focused more concretely on Eurasian corridor development with addresses by Sandra Géhénot, UIC Freight Director, who presented the results of the study recently completed and commissioned by UIC on Eurasian rail routes, including the so-called silk roads, and their interconnections with European Rail Freight Corridors. She indicated that the study identified that after growing with CAGR 140% between 2014-16 to a volume of around 140,000 TEU in 2016, Eurasian rail transport is forecasted to reach around 640,000 TEU in the long-term (2027). Interviews with relevant stakeholders confirmed that the success factors for Eurasian rail freight have stayed largely constant in the last years. The establishment of regular services has improved their focus in the coming years should be on efficiency gains in operations as well as on a broader differentiation in services.
The southern routes, also commonly referred to as “Silk Roads”, are forecasted to take over only a small share of the general Eurasian rail transport, around 3%. Their potential lies mainly in the connection of new markets like Turkey, Iran and South Asia to the EU and to East Asia.
Mr Aubakiov Yerik, Head of JSC Representative Office in Beijing for Kazakhstan railways (KTZ) then took the floor and provided the audience with an insight into KTZ ‘transit development strategies and its increasing container service to and from Chinal. Dr Koung Soukaloun, Director of Lao National State Railway gave a wealth of information on the various infrastructure projects in Laos both for freight and passenger services.
The High Level Forum’s concluded with a presentation by Mr Wang Qing, Deputy Chief, Institute of Market Economy Development Research Center of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China who led the audience towards the next steps after the OBOR Initiative and general economic development. He particularly stressed the changes needed to mirror those in consumer patterns in China and explained the goals to emphasise the development of Western parts of China, the improvement of the supply side, the need to increase added value for the industry. He stressed the changes rail has to make to be able to respond to the new demand and to capture key segments such as pharmaceuticals and e-commerce.
A sub-forum was organised to discuss on the theme: High speed railway transport efficiency and service quality. It was moderated by Marc Guigon, Director of the Passenger Department at UIC.
The main issues concerned the enhancing of high speed railway efficiency in China, Germany, South Korea and France.
Other sessions were organised concerning intelligent station technology, development of intelligent railways, technologies for intelligent mobility, technologies for intelligent construction, technologies for future railways and wheel-rail interaction technologies.
Modern Railways is one of the most impressive conferences and exhibitions in the world with very rich sessions in the framework of the 2nd Railway Cooperation and Development forum, and a huge exhibition showing the latest technologies in the field of railways.