Wednesday 5 May 2021

Freight wins!

Joost Overdijkink, UIC Senior Freight Advisor

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2 UIC Freight Department IRSs were nominated for the Excellence in Standardisation Award: IRS 20240, which contains the RU Handbook on ICM, and IRS 40471-3, describing the inspections to be carried out upon takeover of a dangerous goods consignment.

The nominations are both an acknowledgement of the members’ achievements and an incentive to continue their efforts. As PMO for both groups, I thank them for their excellent work, dedication, perseverance and good humour. Special thanks go to the chair of the expert group from DB Cargo AG Deutschland and his board members from Rail Cargo Austria AG (ÖBB) and SBB AG, as well as all of the ECCO project [1] participants.

IRS 40471-3, Inspections of dangerous goods consignments, (previously UIC Leaflet 471-3) was developed and is regularly updated by the UIC Transport of Dangerous Goods Expert Group to ensure that the carrier’s regulatory inspection requirements under subsection of the Regulation concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail (RID) are fulfilled.

Section 5 of the IRS deals specifically with the inspections that must be conducted by the carrier at the point of departure upon takeover of dangerous goods consignments, and is referenced as best practice in RID The other parts of the IRS, together with the appendices, describe the procedures for exchange of information on non-conformities (RID notifications), as well as a quality assurance system for assessing the quality of inspections performed by carriers at the point of departure.

By consistently providing invaluable expertise in a cooperative working group, the UIC members have established an indispensable reference that is applied throughout the RID application area: EU, Northern Africa, Russia, Asia Minor and Middle East. This is an example of excellence in providing market value to the members involved in dangerous goods transport.

The International Contingency Management Handbook for Railway Undertakings (IRS 20240), to be used in the event of major international disruption to freight traffic, was developed by the UIC ECCO project for the benefit of European railway operators (RUs).

It contains preparatory risk management measures for RUs, the essential steps to be taken by RUs to minimise disruption to trade flows, processes and procedures that RUs should apply in consultation with other RUs, infrastructure managers (IMs) and end customers, and – most importantly – definitions of scenarios for pooling RUs’ resources and ad hoc risk mitigation measures to enable pooling in the event of an officially declared “contingency case”. This final aspects constitutes the core and foundations for a new UIC project on pooling of resources called “Pool Away!”.

All international freight RUs will reap the benefits of both the IRS and the new project, which help to make RU business more competitive by increasing reliability for customers during international disruptions. The innovative idea of pooling resources, such as locomotives and engine drivers, is aimed at achieving greater flexibility when seeking rerouting options during freight artery blockages.

Ultimately, IRS 20240 received an award in the “Business Oriented” category. The award is for the UIC members themselves, especially those who carried out the actual work both in the group and behind the scenes within their companies. Congratulations to all those who made this IRS possible.

[1ECCO participants come from many different organisations: the European Rail Freight Association, SBB (SBB Cargo International AG), SNCF (Fret SNCF, Captrain Italia), LINEAS, CFL multimodal S.A., DB (DB Cargo AG), Green Cargo, RFI (Mercitalia Rail), ÖBB (Rail Cargo Austria, Rail Cargo Carrier Kft., Rail Cargo Hungaria Zrt.), SŽ-Tovorni promet, d. o. o. (organisations in bold are paying members of the UIC ECCO opt-in project)

For further information, please contact: or Joost Overdijkink at

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