TopRail, the UIC working group focused on the Tourism Potential of Railways, held its first meeting of the year once again in Madrid, hosted by the Spanish Railway Foundation. The meeting was attended by railway representatives from Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, UK, Italy, France, Slovakia Portugal and Spain, as well as from Russia.
It was decided by members to have this meeting in Madrid, given that the 40th International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) was taking place at the time, and this gave the members the possibility of taking part in the event.
The workshop was opened by Francisco Polo on behalf of the General Manager of the Spanish Railway Foundation, and Mr Marc Guigon, Director of the UIC Passenger Department. It was led by Mr Carles Cases (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Spain), Chairman of the TopRail group.
The session started with a warm welcome to the new official TopRail members: SNCF and ZSSK.
During the meeting the latest news was presented, with very interesting presentations from ÖBB and the launch of their last night train service to Brussels, as well as the activities of Russian Railways.
There was also a discussion about the new activities to be conducted during the next year with a special focus on the opportunities of digitalisation and new technologies to foster rail tourism.
Regarding the tasks to be accomplished in 2020, during the next few months the group will focus on the organisation of the third TopRail Forum to be held in Lucerne on Friday 29 May 2020 kindly hosted by SBB.
On the second day the meeting ended with a visit to the Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) with the aim of gaining a glimpse into the state-of-the-art of the world of tourism, that was holding one of its most important events of the year during that period in Madrid.
During the fair, a workshop on sustainable tourism and rail took place organized by TopRail in cooperation with Renfe and the European Tourism Association (ETOA). The workshop was attended by more than 60 people including tour operators, railway undertakings and experts in sustainability.
After an introduction given by Carles Casas, Chairman of TopRail and director of strategy and prospective of FGC, Marc Guigon, Director of the UIC Passenger Department, Tim Fairhurst, Secretary General of ETOA and Valentin Alegria, Director of innovation and network development of Renfe, there were some case presentations from SBB, Renfe, the tour operator Crucemar and the rail tourism expert Ana Garcia, who presented the lesson learned from her work with TopRail members regarding the TopRail Guidelines on how to attract tourists to the railways.
Finally, a round table took place moderated by Jorge Traver, representative of ETOA in Spain, with the participation of Sandra Pansini from FS, Jose Manuel de Juan, Director of the New York Delegation of Tourspain, Ana Garcia and Gabriel Castanares, Renfe’s expert in sustainability.
If you are interested in discovering the potential of tourism in the railways as a business and in meeting the main actors of the sector, the TopRail members encourage you to take part in the third TopRail Forum to be held in Lucerne on Friday 29 May 2020.