Information published on 19 June 2018 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 604.

Blockchain: the key to a new era of trust in freight leveraged by UIC Member railways

Blockchain, which groups together developments in cryptography, decentralisation and trust management, has been presented as one of the most disruptive technologies since the previous revolution dating back to the birth of internet and later usage of P2P networks.

Taking into account its characteristics in terms of transparency, traceability, trust and distributed governance, this tool could potentially allow the development of a better mobility as a service interoperability and bring substantial advantages/benefits to the transport system.

Today, railways, at the heart of this chain of mobility and related ecosystems, represented by the worldwide railway organisation UIC, could take the opportunity to differentiate itself as an agile leader by sharing a common vision on this strategic subject. Railways could deploy these amazing changes by encouraging actors to open their data, by connecting each other’s game changers around a fluidity of systems and through a real cooperation mode benefiting the entire ecosystem’s stakeholders well beyond boundaries.

Railways are indeed probably one of the most relevant fields to encourage a blockchain approach in order to create a disruptive competitive advantage, and therefore an additional leverage to rail freight leadership.
Corridors, and more particularly the one belt one road (OBOR), are particularly a great application case, as freight transport has to face manual processes, mismanagement and fraud, minimise delays, secure information, increase trust and develop safe archiving along with smart contracts to automate time consuming processes.

According to recent facts and figures, railways could gain and add value to their ecosystems of up to 100 million dollars a year just in these corridors thanks to improved freight performance, through

  • “Reduced frictions at all operational transit bottleneck points with harmonised validation consensus
  • higher values of freight containers
  • improved cash-flow and capital management
  • timed information exchange with smart contract, facilitating customs controls, clearance, etc …” as researched and mentioned by our experts.

Along with the UIC Digital Platform created in 2015, and the Freight Stakeholder Group focusing on Transcontinental Corridor development, railways today have an amazing opportunity to improve the attractiveness of rail benefits within the freight ecosystems, to effectively and efficiently engage all freight ecosystems with blockchain technology, with rail at the centre of the multimodal set-up.

The subject will be discussed in particular through a keynote given by our blockchain expert Gilbert Réveillon during the #UICrail Global Rail Freight Conference GRFC to be held in Genoa from 26 – 28 June: www.uicgrfc.org