The EMCA and the EGoA meetings were held online in the morning and afternoon of 3 June respectively (during Green Transport Week), bringing together the attendance of representatives of member companies, partner organisations and colleagues from the UIC HQ team.
The focus of the discussions was on core topics such as budget, projects, standards, research and innovation and contact and interfaces with a number of new partner organisations.
Opened and moderated by Simon Fletcher, Director UIC Europe, the EGoA started with a debrief from the Board of Directors. UIC Director General François Davenne spoke about the importance of developing inter-regional projects and activities with the aim of developing a consistent and bold narrative for the railways, the need for good accountability, including improving our tools to enable good budget management, as well as ensuring that the right topics are being addressed within UIC, particularly with regard to certain technical areas and in line with the business objectives of the railway operating community.
Finance Director Thierry Béra presented the current budgetary situation and invited the meeting to recommend the approval of the 2020 results, to note the generally balanced financial situation at mid-year and the first elements for the 2022 budget.
He also gave a brief overview of the activities of the Finance Platform, drawing together a wide range of mostly Finance Directors from a range of member companies and explained which colleagues are involved in which sector.
François Davenne presented an initiative that has been developed by Francisco Cardoso dos Reis (IP - Chair of the European Region), to shape future mobility through a multi-regional approach. This will be possible through the coordination of Europe-centric projects within the framework of EU-Rail, the successor to Shift2Rail but also by creating an inter-regional exchange platform to build stronger regional activities around concrete projects.
It is of course essential to ensure that, where relevant, projects are developed and delivered within the parameters and scope of intellectuality. Nevertheless, there should also be the correct level of inclusiveness by creating a coordinated response on behalf of the railways and a catalogue of projects demonstrating that the railway sector is the sustainable backbone of future mobility.
Concerning the (current) 2021 and (future) 2022 Work Programme, Aline Wego, Head of Project Management Office, shared a summary list of the projects which have been started for 2021 and the headlines for the 2022 Work Programme. This included a debrief of the ‘Projects Workshop’ held on 4 May where the full proposed programme for 2022 was presented across all sectors and regions and representing where business needs expressed by member companies had been expressed. The team is now in the phase of collecting expressions of interest and are requesting ‘interest forms’ to have been submitted by mid-June for the topics addressed. François Davenne added a few words about the Optimised process of the UIC projects programme, where the proposal is to organise a fast-track process in exceptional situations for projects that are considered to be urgent and for which the current process is not appropriate in terms of timeline. The European region will act as the test bed for this process before it is rolled out to other regions.
With regard to Standardisation, Chief Standardisation Officer Célia Levy talked about the ESMG (European Standardisation Management Group), a tripartite body established in 2020 to coordinate a consolidated response, on behalf of the railway operating community, to European standardisation topics. Ms Levy gave an update on the ESMG after six months, describing the work plan, the organisation and the first working session, as well as the circulation and development of a paper setting out the added value and achievements to date by ESMG.
In the area of Research & Innovation, Martin Brennan, Head of Research and Innovation, spoke about the EU-Rail Joint Undertaking (the successor of Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking), the MoU with Shift2Rail and the next ERRAC plenary.
Regarding the EU-Rail Joint Undertaking, Mr Brennan explained its structure and governance, membership, the open call system, funding and the specific tasks of the system pillar process, which is focused on the layered functional architecture approach where data can be exchanged through standard interfaces.
François Davenne added that UIC will actively support the System Pillar framework – particularly the operational concept – and fully contribute to its various tasks. He mentioned the various projects and cross-cutting activities where UIC’s role is essential in the EU-Rail Joint Undertaking.
The next ERRAC Plenary is to be held on 30 June online and the agenda was presented to the meeting.
Regarding Sustainable Development, Head of Sustainability Lucie Anderton presented the International Green Transport Week – a series of events in support of the European Year of Rail – an update on COP26, scheduled to be held from 1 – 12 November in Glasgow, where UIC will help coordinate the global voice of rail, with a provisional list of events and partnerships. She also presented members with the ESRS (Environmental Strategy Reporting System), a data reporting system showing the data collected so far and monitoring progress towards 2030 emissions targets.
Freight Director Sandra Géhénot spoke about Rail Freight Forward (RFF), with a short presentation on how RFF alliance is raising awareness about the importance of working as a sector and developing attractive multimodal solutions. Promoting the RFF initiative “30 by 2030”, which aims to shift at least 30% of freight off the roads and on to rail, Ms Gehenot also explained the role of the UIC team in contributing to sector priorities through its involvement in and coordination of a number of core and highly pertinent projects.
Regarding Relations with partner organisations, Passenger Director Marc Guigon, updated the meeting on the three MoUs currently underway, notably with UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), the STA (Smart Ticketing Alliance) – the body promoting the establishment of interoperable smart ticketing in transport services in Europe and elsewhere – and OSDM (Open Sales and Distribution Model).
In concluding the meetings, Simon Fletcher highlighted the broad range of topics that the meetings had covered and that, despite the ongoing pandemic and uncertainty over the lifting of restrictions, business carries on as usual and at pace.
He announced that the meetings of European Management Committee and Regional Assembly Europe will take place on 6 July 2021. Whilst these meetings in July will be entirely online, he expressed the hope that by the autumn, depending on the easing of travel limitations, it would be possible to organise the next round of meetings with as many people as possible physically present.