On 28 October 2014 the last meeting of the year of the Commuter and Regional Train Services Working Group was held at the headquarters of BLS in Bern. The meeting was hosted by Hans Bernhard Fiechter, Head of Service Offer Planning at BLS and was chaired by Bartłomiej Buczek (PKP SKM), chairman of the group. UIC was represented by Ignacio Barrón de Angoiti, Director of the High Speed and Passenger Department and Luis Casado Presa, Senior Advisor of this department.
The meeting started with a presentation given by the host, BLS. Mr Fiechter provided information about his company: the history, the present situation, and the future challenges. This presentation was followed by a lively discussion in which the BLS model was taken as a starting point to talk about ticketing and interoperability. Mr Antonio Jaraices (Euskotren) explained the different models of ticketing in the Basque Country, the problematic situation due to the different policies developed by the three regions of the Basque Country, and the solutions they are trying to put forward to solve this problem. Mr Zhangshang Zhao (China Academy for Railway Sciences) gave a presentation about the commuter train system in China and its limitations, and talked about the possibilities of a high-speed commuting system around Beijing or Shanghai, given the size of Chinese cities and the increasing amount of passengers. Finally, Mr Luis Casado Presa (UIC) gave a presentation about the different contracts that can be found in the European Union between public authorities and railway undertakings.
On the following day, and following the invitation extended by BLS, the group visited Lötschberg base-tunnel, which opened in 2007, and which is part of the BLS infrastructure. It started with a technical explanation of the management and traffic through the tunnel at the BLS facilities in Frutigen, followed by a visit to the tunnel itself, which is used by many regional trains coming and going from Bern and by other railway services as well.
The next meeting of the CRTS group will take place in Paris in March. The exact date will be determined in the following weeks.