Wednesday 8 March 2023

European Management Committee Assistants (EMCA) held online on 23 February 2023

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The European Management Committee Assistants (EMCA) was held remotely, with around 25 participants representing UIC member railways and partner organisations across Europe. Senior representatives spoke on behalf of ADIF, CP, FS Italiane, DB, ÖBB, MAV, LDz, Bane NOR, Network Rail, PKP, CFR, SNCF, SNCB, as well as UIC HQ.

Sandra Géhénot, Regional Coordinator for Europe since 1 January this year, opened the meeting and welcomed all participants, giving a special welcome to those joining for the first time, notably Jo Lewington (Network Rail), Andrea Heigl (ÖBB), Peter Holvoet (SNCB) and Laurent Frechede (SNCF).

Mrs Géhénot thanked Simon Fletcher, former Regional Coordinator, for helping her in preparing this meeting, as well as Francisco Cardoso dos Reis for his work and support to the region over the last five years.

Mr Cardoso dos Reis briefly took the floor to give a few farewell words, thanking all the railways for their support in increasing the effectiveness and quality of the work, and encouraged Sandra Géhénot and the new team to continue the work already undertaken, saying that the Europe region strongly needs their dedication and professionalism.

After the approval of the agenda, a few words were delivered regarding the Governance of the EMCA. Following the retirement of the previous chair, Francisco dos Reis, Martin Frobisher, current vice chair, will take over the Chairmanship until the end of the current mandate. A call for candidate for the new governance 2024 – 2026 will be launched in June, according to the European Terms of reference, as all current EMC mandates will finish at the end of the year. The EMCA recommended the EMC to approve this way forward.

Members were then given a status reporting on a number of items concerning the European Action Plan 2023 – 2023 with a zoom on key issues and initiatives to be developed this year.
Jean-Michel Evanghelou, UIC Rail System Deputy Director, gave an update on the positioning of UIC within ERJU (Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking), on what UIC is currently doing in the system pillar and identified the key issues requiring members’ attention. He explained that the remits of each domain have been identified and that UIC has the technical coordination and domain lead for the Rail System Architecture and for DAC (Digital Automatic Coupling).

Regarding FRMCS, a UIC-led development, he said that the European Commission recognises the role of FRMCS in the digitalisation of the railways, which means more support going forward. On this subject François Davenne, UIC Director General, added that this example showed that UIC has a number of solid technical trajectories which is making its relation with the Commission more transparent and structured, and bringing concrete actions and added-value to the sector and beyond.

On the subject of Combined Transport, UIC Rail System Director Christian Chavanel gave a background update of the issue concerning the creation of a standard on combined transport coding. In response to the request by the European Commission to migrate IRS 50596-6 to an EN standard as a support measure for modal shift, UIC prepared a statement explaining that this creation is not appropriate for various reasons, and that since the UIC combined transport coding system works well, there is no need to create a parallel process within the EU legal framework.

Regarding Sustainability, Joo Hyun Ha, UIC Senior Sustainability Advisor, on behalf of Lucie Anderton, Head of Sustainable Development, gave a return on experience of COP27, held last November in Egypt, and the preparation for COP28 planned later this year in Dubai. At COP27 UIC was involved in the organisation of 13 events and had a number of speaking engagements at high level, which was an excellent opportunity for the organisation to come into contact with over 40 organisations, extend its network of partners and stakeholders, and exchange with other areas beyond the rail community, thus helping to elevate the role of railways in the transport community as a solution for sustainable mobility in the future.

In view of the forthcoming COP28 event, Mr Davenne added the importance of upstream lobbying to obtain financing and the need to advocate more rail into the pavilions to demonstrate that rail is the obvious solution to decarbonisation.

Jo Lewington, Chief Environment and Sustainability Officer, Network Rail, gave a short report and consolidated picture on UIC’s work regarding Alternative means of traction energy to make members aware of the work of UIC and expectations. By tackling the challenge of traction beyond electrification, UIC through the various work packages is focusing on solutions available to the market, risks linked to the solutions and impacts on operations.

In the area of freight, Sandra Géhénot gave an update on DP-Rail, the “Digital Platform for Rail Freight” project that aims to achieve seamless, interoperable data exchange for core rail freight operations through a trusted digital ecosystem. for which an application for CEF funding was filed.
EMCA members were invited to promote this project, key for the rail freight operators, with their national CEF representatives.

Under Projects and Financials, Jean-Michel Evanghelou provided status reporting on the 2023 opt-in process and next steps, in line with the UIC 2023 – 2025 Work Programme, saying that overall UIC is focused on making projects as relevant as possible and making a big effort to position UIC opt-ins with ERJU as a reference point. He gave the meeting an update on the current status of opt-in projects for the various UIC departments with the next step being to finalise the projects for 2023.

The EMCA was invited to note that:

  • The final list of projects for the Work Programme 2023 will be made available by the end of February;
  • For the Work Programme 2023, more UIC active members are involved in the final confirmation phase compared to the previous work programme 2022;
  • For the Work Programme 2023, in comparison to the previous work programme 2022 there is an anticipated improvement of the performance in terms of number of active members involved, of total budget support and of number of new projects to be launched.

Sandra Géhénot, who has taken over the position of Coordinator for the region as of 1 January 2023, shared with the EMCA members her first impressions and thoughts on the role and activities within the European Region.
Mrs Géhénot added that the Europe region is fertile ground and the birthplace for a number of projects which benefit not just the Europe region. The region has a wealth of information and production which form the UIC asset base and can support the business needs of other regions, therefore in its work programme the Europe Region could perhaps address these issues on a more systematic basis.

Following this point, Martin Frobisher, Group Safety and Engineering Director, Network Rail, spoke about support for Ukraine and what the railways can do in the next stage. He gave details of the large aid project being conducted by railways in the UK and suggested having a dedicated group to address the issue in order to try and make a real impact. He added that railways are uniquely placed to deliver and make a difference on the ground as they are a huge part of logistics and have the relevant project management skills. The aim is to share what is being done at European regional level, and then bring coordination and technical expertise to national level. A proposal was made to hold an initial meeting within the next couple of weeks, before then proposing the best way forward at the next EMC meeting.

With regard to the final item of the meeting, Oana Vlasceanu, UIC Head of Quality Management, gave a status update on the PKP Survey: extension to the European Region. It was recalled that this survey was initiated by PKP to prepare the April 2022 PKP/UIC HLEM as a tool to gauge the views and relation of its technical experts with UIC. The positive outcome of the PKP survey led it to be launched at the level of the RA-Europe.

In her concluding words, Sandra Géhénot thanked the participants for their active involvement and participation.

As a reminder the next meeting of the EMC is planned to be held on 23 March 2023 in Budapest.
The next meeting of the EMCA is planned to be held in the morning of 15 May 2023, with the EGoA in the afternoon.

For further information about the EMCA please contact Sandra Géhénot, Freight Director and Coordinator for Europe :

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