Thursday 3 December 2020

African Railway Thursdays: second webinar

Standardisation: technical and financial challenges for the African railway networks

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The second webinar organised by the UIC African Region on November 26 within the framework of the African Railway Thursdays centred around the theme of standardisation: technical and financial challenges for the African railway networks. The webinar was attended by over 150 participants from the African region, as well as participants from Europe, Russia, China and the Middle East.

Mr Mohamed Khlie, President of the UIC African Region, opened the webinar, underlining the success and the importance of the bimonthly UIC “African Railway Thursday” webinars focusing on the activities of UIC and the African Region. Mr Khlie gave an overview of standardisation in African networks, focusing on investment policy, railway expertise and other issues.

Mr François Davenne, UIC Director General, noted the growing importance of interoperability in Europe and explained UIC’s vital role in standardisation of operations and maintenance optimisation. He also highlighted UIC’s role in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the components of the railway system to facilitate standardisation in the best way possible, implementing interconnection and operations at global level.

UIC is an organisation that offers operational solutions for the railways, and Mr Davenne announced that UIC will publish a document on operational solutions for railways in the coming days. The document will highlight the key areas in which IRSs provide operational solutions for railway companies.

Mr Davenne noted the launch of regular trimestral meetings of the Presidents of the UIC regions to facilitate operations between different regional networks. Members from the African region are welcome to contact the UIC Standardisation Unit for more information.

Ms Celia Levy, UIC Chief Standardisation Officer, gave a presentation on the benefits and role of standardisation. She outlined the complex international standardisation ecosystem and required interfaces with regulation. Ms Levy explained the benefits to companies and to the sector of developing a standardisation strategy. She highlighted UIC’s added value as a standards-setting organisation (SSO) and explained the current programme to migrate UIC leaflets to operational solutions (IRSs). Ms Levy also presented the tools and services provided by UIC for the railway sector.

Further presentations from the UIC panel included a presentation of rolling stock standards and best practices for the development of international activities by Mr Alain Scherrer, UIC Senior Rolling Stock Advisor. Mr Paulo de Freitas, UIC Senior Freight Advisor, presented the importance of standardisation in railway operations, and Mr Joost Overdijkink, UIC Senior Freight Advisor, presented international transportation of dangerous goods.

Mr Laurent Schmitt of SNCF gave a presentation entitled “Standardisation model – SNCF experience, key benefits of standardisation for railway operating companies: detailed and concrete feedback”.

A representative from the African Union outlined technical methods for African railway networks. Responding to questions on cooperation between AU and UIC, he said that the standardisation project is financed by member states and should go through a tender process. He noted that AU had signed an MoU with UIC and that the MoU with UIC and OTIF would become active in the next few months as part of a new process that will be put in place.

Further presentations were given by OTIF, CTFM, EDR and ONCF, offering a complete picture of the partnerships and efficient complementarity developed with UIC. Ms Maria Price, OTIF Expert, Technical Interoperability Department, provided a comprehensive overview of the COTIF legal framework and the important interfaces between OTIF and UIC aimed at facilitating international transport by rail and ensuring effective harmonisation in the rail sector.

The webinar was moderated by Mr Thierry Béra, UIC CFO and UIC African Region Coordinator and Mr Said Chandid, ONCF, UIC African Region bureau.

To consult the presentations and view a recording of the webinar, please visit

For further information on the webinar or the African region, please contact Maria Lafont,

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Célia Levy's presentation, UIC CSO, on benefits and role of standardisation