A UIC/FIATA Contact Group meeting took place from 8 – 9 March 2012 in Sopron, Hungary.
The UIC/FIATA Contact Group aims to facilitate a platform where freight forwarders and railway undertakings can network, discuss the latest trends within the rail sector and exchange best practice. Furthermore this group decides on the theme and location of the Market Place Seminar which is regularly organised by UIC and FIATA. One focus of this year’s meeting dealt with the challenges for rail transport between Europe and Asia.
It was pointed out that rail transport from East to West is currently affected by a lack of wagons due to an unclear privatisation process in the CIS states. This problem has to be solved quickly as there are four key railway corridors which stretch from China across Russia to Europe bearing a high potential for efficient long-distance rail traffic. As world trade is growing Chinese Railways have already announced that they will implement the CIM/SMGS Consignment Note on three main border stations.
An update of current EU rail policy was also given during the meeting.
Although the EU intends to establish an EU-wide multimodal TEN-T “core network” by 2050, there are still many problems the rail sector has to tackle. The “RECAST” and the “4th Railway Package” are two major EU initiatives that are applied to improve the current situation. Competition issues, the strengthening of regulatory bodies and the creation of framework conditions to ensure financial transparency are some of the issues highlighted. In this context, one presentation on the results of the liberalisation process in the railway sector deserves a mention. It seems as if liberalisation of the railway sector has not reached its targets. Instead of lower freight rates, market transparency and an abolishment of state railways acting as a monopoly, the railway market nowadays has become more complex and less transparent. State monopoly railway systems are still in place and despite increased competition, there has not yet been a significant shift in goods traffic from road to rail.
The group has decided to meet again in September 2012. The next Market Place Seminar is scheduled to take place in April 2013 in Vienna. A theme for the Seminar will soon be determined.