The world is changing rapidly. Railways have to adapt themselves to new market demands and to their new relationship of “coopetitors”. Exchanging commercial information and data, building up common commercial practices or setting general rules for the sharing of transport revenue become less likely, even prohibited, and UIC member interest in those kinds of activities is decreasing.
But railway undertakings still need reliable information and data on train movements, still need to develop their technological skills and to be kept informed about scientific evolutions, and still need studies they can rely on to demonstrate the advantages of the rail sector.
In Europe, the liberalisation process and the new perspectives given to rail are reshuffling the sector. New forms of cooperation emerge, and have a strong impact on working processes and relationships between railway undertakings. The UIC Passenger Forum seeks to develop cooperation via projects of common interest.
This would also interest members from regions other than Europe. High speed/long distance and short distance/commuter services, within their conception as “systems”, mixing many similar and different elements in their core structure, need important strategic approaches in order to achieve or maintain successful development in Europe and in the world.
Stations represent a key element in passenger transport. For customers, they are the only “gateway” to railway systems. For railways, sometimes they are the key elements in attracting (or not attracting) customers. And aside from their strategic value for railway systems and for customers, stations represent an important business element and an essential element in city development.
Regional and commuter railway transport represent more than 95% of global railway passengers activity.
This area has to be covered by UIC. The worldwide development of these activities involves all UIC members. A work plan was discussed at a special workshop in autumn 2011.
Most of all, railway undertakings will have to focus more than ever on the customer/passenger. Every aspect of the passenger’s trip (obtaining information, purchasing tickets, enjoying station services and travelling in local, regional, intercity and high speed trains, etc.) can be improved, and all participating railways can join their efforts towards that goal in the different working groups of the UIC Passenger Forum.
It therefore seems necessary to re-orientate and broaden the scope of the Passenger Forum and to work within a new structure, built around four areas of competence:
- Intercity & High speed
- Commuter and Regional Trains Services
- Commercial and Distribution