The 31st UIC Asia-Pacific Regional Assembly (APRA), organised for the third time by web conference due to the Covid-19 crisis, successfully took place on 24 June 2021. Chaired by Mr François Davenne, Director General of UIC, in the absence of Mr Lu Dongfu, Chair of the UIC Asia-Pacific Region, welcomed by Mr Li Wenxin, Vice-President of CR (representing Mr Lu Dongfu) and Mr Batyr Kotyrev, Chief Engineer of KTZ (representing Mr Sauranbaev Nurlan Yermekovich, the new Chair of KTZ and the UIC Asia-Pacific Regional Assembly Vice-Chair), the meeting was focused on the first semester achievements (despite the Covid-19 pandemic), the 2022 project proposals, and forthcoming events.
More than 100 participants from China (CR, CARS, NRA, BJTU, Tongji University, SWJTU, CRDC, CRECC, CRRC SRI), Kazakhstan (KTZ), Japan (JR-East, RTRI), India (IR), Korea (KORAIL, KNR, KRRI), Russia (RZD, VNIIZhT, NIIAS, RUT, RZDStroy), Mongolia (UBTZ), Vietnam (VNR), Thailand (SRT), Philippines (DOTr, PNR), Indonesia (KAI, MASKA), Azerbaijan (ADY), Malaysia (KTMB, RAC) and Australia (DOT Victoria, PTA, TMR) attended the 31st APRA. The UIC APRA partners also joined the web conference: ECO, EEC, OSJD, SSZD and UN ESCAP.
Report from the UIC Asia-Pacific Chair
On behalf of Mr Lu Dongfu, UIC Asia-Pacific Chair, Mr Li Wenxin, Vice-President of CR, expressed his thanks to the members for their support and trust during his first mandate. He assured them that CR would continue to work with KTZ and all the members to perform its duties. He added: “We are delighted to see that thanks to the joint efforts of APRA and UIC HQ, members have taken active measures to combat Covid-19 and worked diligently for closer cooperation and further progress in the following areas:
- development of international railway corridors (China-Laos Railway, Bangkok-Nakhon pilot section, etc.);
- cooperation to promote transport along the Eurasian corridor;
- cooperation in the field of scientific research and projects (improvements in project selection and quality management);
- cooperation and exchanges (UIC Day for members in Oceania, ASEAN, CIS and for newcomers, close exchanges with international organisations and partners, etc.).”
Mr Li also underlined the work undertaken to combat the Covid-19 pandemic: “In the wake of Covid-19, all members have been earnestly implementing the relevant regulations and requirements on epidemic prevention and control. As the railway sector takes effective measures, it has been playing an important role in the fight against the pandemic and in the reopening of our economies. While combating Covid-19, all parties concerned have strengthened international cooperation to fight the pandemic together.”
He mentioned the importance of promoting green and sustainable development and called on the members for their active participation in and support of UIC efforts on this issue.
Mr Li continued, saying: “The Asia-Pacific region will continue to play its role as the largest contributor to global economic growth, thus providing a solid foundation and strong impetus for better carrying out the work in APRA during the post-Covid-19 period. Along with its basic work, APRA will also keep its focus on the following aspects:
- persisting in our effort to enhance epidemic prevention and control;
- promoting regional cooperation in key fields;
- initiating cooperation and exchanges on railway sustainable development in APRA;
- strengthening exchanges and cooperation in railway safety;
- further enhancing the service efficiency of the APRA platform.”
To conclude, Mr Li thanked all the members for their support and invited them to join the 11th World Congress on High Speed Rail which would be held in Beijing, China from 27 June to 1 July 2022.
Report from the UIC Director General
Mr François Davenne, UIC Director General, firstly wished to sincerely thank all APRA members and its Chair for their commitment and everything accomplished since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, especially as the situation continued to be difficult during the first semester of 2021. He underlined that UIC and its members had found new ways of working through virtual events and that it had been possible to preserve and even improve communication and member satisfaction. However, Mr Davenne pointed out that UIC still had to improve its work and they planned to develop new tools and a strategy to drive its actions. Consequently, he presented the new UIC booklet focused on the structure of expert teams and working groups, and the Technical Solutions brochure, which focused on UIC’s added values and should be available at the end of June.
Mr Davenne also mentioned the importance of the development of interregional projects in order to:
- “ascertain the needs of UIC members and the railway sector in order to build stronger regional activities around structuring and concrete projects.
- work on the creation of high-level user groups for UIC products outside Europe, to better share the needs for evolution and adaptation. This could be achieved through regular thematic webinars.
- if the previous actions enable the identification of enough new projects, consider the creation of decision-maker delegates ensuring a permanent presence in the most active regions to animate the programme and articulate regional visions.”
To conclude, Mr Davenne said that they could be proud of what they had achieved together in 2021 and again thanked the members for their presence and support during this difficult period.
Mr Vincent Vu, Director of Institutional Relations announced that since the last APRA, two studies had been finalised and distributed to members during the 31st APRA:
- “Predicting the maintenance of railway infrastructure with digital technologies” undertaken by KTZ
- “Big Data-Based Timetable Management” undertaken by NIIAS.
He also mentioned that due to the Covid-19 situation, some projects had been postponed or delayed:
- IRaTCA training session on “Railway passenger services based on IT”, planned by KORAIL from 5 to 9 April 2021 in Seoul (Korea), has been postponed until 2022;
- “Measures for the effective development of multimodal transport in the Asia-Pacific Region aimed at increasing the competitiveness of railway transport – INTERTRAN III”, originally planned by RZD for 14 and 15 October 2020 in Vladivostok (Russia), has been postponed until September/October 2022, but a workshop will be organised online on 29 September 2021;
- “Research on the status quo of key system technical standards for high speed trains”, undertaken by CARS, should be finalised soon;
- “Research on the Railway Development Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region for the better fulfilment of railway’s role as the backbone in integrated transport, a start in 2020 to update VISION 2050”, undertaken by CARS on behalf of CR, should be finalised soon;
- “Study of best practices in railway digitalisation and intelligent railway technology system framework”, undertaken by CARS on behalf of CR, should be finalised soon;
- “Risk assessment of international railway transport corridors”, undertaken by SWJTU, is in progress;
- “Feasibility study on railway electrification under adverse operating conditions, in less accessible areas and under shortage of highly-skilled employees”, undertaken by RUT, is in progress;
- “Research on railway infrastructure maintenance strategies for different operating needs in Asia-Pacific”, proposed by CARS, is still under discussion;
- “Unified electronic ticketing: a key technical study on e-tickets based on the international transport of railways in Asia-Pacific”, proposed by CR, is still under discussion;
- “Development of methodological guidelines for establishing non-destructive control periodicity and defining remaining resources in exploitation of rails with transversal cracks”, undertaken by VNIIZHT, is in progress;
- “Role, design methods and the future of rail operation control centres in Asia”, undertaken by NIIAS, is in progress;
- IRaTCA training session on “Railway’s role and national supports against Covid-19”, hosted by KORAIL, will be held from 11 to 15 April 2022.
For 2022, 34 project proposals have been submitted in different sectors (strategy and institutional relations, freight, digital, High Speed, training, infrastructure, environmental sustainability, safety, passenger, urban development, etc.) and APRA members have been invited to opt-in to the proposed projects, the final selection for which will be carried out during the 32nd APRA in October 2021.
Mr Davenne announced the forthcoming events and mentioned in particular the online “Workshop on Standardisation” co-hosted with KTZ on 14 October 2021 and the online “Workshop on Construction of Residential and Commercial Estate over Operating Railway Lines” proposed by RZDStroy to be held on 25 November 2021.
Mr Vu reminded members of UBTZ’s application to host the 33rd APRA in Mongolia in Spring 2022 and thanked them for their kind offer.
Mr François Davenne, UIC Director General, closed the 31st UIC Asia-Pacific Regional Assembly, thanking all the members for their presence and cooperation and invited them to attend the next UIC Asia-Pacific Regional Assembly which will again be held online on 26 October 2021, with the Conference on Digital from 27 to 28 October 2021.