UIC which currently counts 200 members from all over the world held its usual series of statutory meetings (Executive Board and General Assembly) on Tuesday 8 December at its Headquarters in Paris. The meetings were led by the Chairman of UIC Yoshio Ishida, who is also Vice-Chairman of East Japan Railways, together with Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General in the presence of excellent participation from the CEOs and Chairmen of various member railway companies.
This Assembly was the second meeting to be held following adoption of the association’s new statutes and nomination of a new Chairman, Vice Chairman and Director General in March this year. It was a chance for members to view all the work which had been accomplished in the past eight months geared to improve both the quality and value for money of services offered by UIC to its members, reinforce the association’s efficiency – in particular by simplification of certain procedures and guaranteeing better management transparency – and build UIC’s presence with respect to a whole range of other institutions.
In a background of world wide activities which will open up UIC’s position and place it on a firm international footing, Chairman Ishida made a proposal to focus on five key areas which would be further developed in the interest of the whole railway community: environment, safety/security, freight, signalling and standardisation. More in-depth work in these fields coincides with the objectives set out last March, which aimed to make UIC at the same time unique, universal and a testimony to greater solidarity.
In addition UIC members were informed of the various memoranda of understanding signed or contacts made with a considerable number of influential international institutions: the World Bank, UNECE, UNESCAP, the African Union, APTA (American Public Transport Association) as well as several regional development banks, in order to promote the development based on the needs and conditions of the respective railways. The current campaign initiative driven by UIC against climate change under the heading “Train to Copenhagen” – “Climate Express” has allowed the association to strengthen its relations with UNEP and UNFCCC as well as with NGOs such as WWF. Another MoU is ready to be signed with UNIFE (the European Rail Industry Union) from the same perspective.
These recent developments form yet more proof of UIC’s ever growing recognition for its world renowned expertise – expertise which it holds via its members – and confirms its neutral position. This world wide status is a major path of future development of the association.
The General Assembly was also given a progress report on activities undertaken by its Regional Assemblies in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
With regards to organisation of technical work within UIC, the General Assembly approved the principle of the establishment of a new organisational structure called “Rail System Forum”. This forum which gathers member representatives will bring together the various interfaces between infrastructure and rolling stock and will replace the previous “Infrastructure” Forum as well as the “Technical and Research” and “ERTMS” platforms. The new Forum will have a pivotal role to place in ensuring that – on an international scale – there is consistency across the whole railway system. It will therefore take under its wing a host of sectors including track, vehicle dynamics, operations, command control and signalling, energy management, rolling stock, infrastructure assessment and research. Projects handled by the Forum will receive the support of a new “Railway Systems/Infrastructure” Department led by Emilio Maestrini from the Italian Railways who will also head research, with a view to fostering better interaction within UIC and with ERRAC.
As for European Technical cooperation, the General Assembly approved UIC’s participation to the CTG, “Coordination Technical Group” set up as a result of tri-partite cooperation between UIC (for its technical expertise) and the European Railway Associations CER and EIM which are more focussed on political and regulatory aspects. Simon Fletcher who is also UIC European Coordinator will act as the interface between UIC and CTG.
UIC members were also informed of several management shuffles: Oliver Sellnick, currently Director for the Freight Department will now also act as interface between UIC Forums and Platforms (System, Freight and Passenger) and as coordinator for multi-regional projects. Iñaki Barrón, who until now has acted as Director of High Speed, will now also head the Passenger Department.
The General Assembly welcomed four new associate members to UIC: KAI (Indonesian Railways), GYSEV Cargo Zrt. (Hungary), Raaberbahn Cargo GmbH (Austria), Montenegro Freight Company (Montenegro) and two new affiliate members: Metra Engineering (Iran) and Plaske JSC (Ukraine)
Members unanimously approved UIC’s accounts for 2008, its positive financial results for 2009 and its draft budget for 2010.
In his closing remarks, Chairman Ishida thanked all UIC members for their cooperation and understanding and also thanked UIC management and staff teams for their work and achievements since the last Assembly. He also cordially invited members to the next General Assembly, which will be held in Tokyo at the same time as the UIC Global Conference on Traffic Management and Control Command Signalling.