The railway community must work together for rail to be more connected, more digitalised and more sustainable in order to survive, and it must do so quickly. This was the overwhelming conclusion as the 9th International Railway Summit closed in Warsaw on 21 February.
The UIC-supported networking event welcomed some 140 delegates representing 86 companies and organisations from 21 countries across the globe.
UIC’s Director General François Davenne shared his vision for greater connectivity through rail in his keynote speech. Frugality is railway’s decisive advantage, declared Mr Davenne, referring to frugality in energy consumption, in land use, in asset life cycle and in rail’s scalable systems. Francis Bédel, UIC’s Chief Digital Officer, acted as chairman of the conference programme, which debated ‘breaking down barriers through digital transformation’.
UIC’s Simon Fletcher and Jean-Michel Evanghelou contributed in sessions exploring standardisation and secure communications respectively. During his welcome dinner speech, Mr Fletcher promoted railway’s position as the backbone of a sustainable intermodal system of mobility as a service and an effective contribution to a buoyant economy.
The summit also addressed intercontinental rail freight, urban multimodality and climate change.
Among the keynote speakers were Marcin Horała, Secretary of State, Ministry of Infrastructure, Poland, Elisabeth Werner, Director of Land Transport at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE), and Mirosław Antonowicz, Member of the Board at the Polish State Railways (PKP SA).
Ms Werner called for rail to play a much greater role in the future of transport by improving technical and operational systems, and maximising its safe, green and well-connected credentials.
Acknowledging that breakthroughs can only be made through breaking down barriers between sectors, the summit welcomed contributions from the World Customs Organisation, the European Investment Bank, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, International Transport Forum and Airlines for Europe.
A programme of some 200 pre-arranged one-to-one meetings saw the first steps of many potential partnerships.
Prior to the opening of the summit, delegates were given a guided tour of Alstom’s Pendolino train depot, PKP’s locomotive depot and Warsaw Metro’s cutting-edge Młynów station, currently under construction.
The 10th International Railway Summit will take place in Berlin from 24 – 26 February 2021. UIC members will be eligible for complimentary and discounted entry, subject to conditions and availability. Organisations interested in learning more about International Railway Summit can visit http://www.irits.org or contact the organisers, IRITS Events.