Wednesday 8 June 2022

UIC brought the voice of the railway to the International Transport Forum (ITF) from 18 – 20 May 2022 in Leipzig

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This year, the ITF Summit, which brings together ministers from around the world, explored how better transport connectivity can help integrate regions – from local communities and cities to global regions – and enable the achievement of economic, social, and environmental goals.

This Summit is a major event on the global transport agenda. For many years, the UIC, together with its members, has been involved in this process in order to develop and make the arguments in favor of the rail mode audible. This event is a unique opportunity to give visibility to the Sector.

It also gave UIC the chance to foster links with its institutional partners, such as the International Labour Organization, ILO (the only tripartite U.N agency), the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

François Davenne, UIC Director General, thanked Young Tae Kim, Secretary General of the ITF, for the occasion that was given to UIC and more broadly to the rail sector to express its views during the ITF 2022. He added “As we are entering a period where sustainability, accessibility and inclusivity will be a must for all transport systems, ITF plays a key role in building a balanced way for achieving a better society through better transport. All UIC teams remain committed to bringing substance into the events and publications realised under the ITF’s drive”.

The UIC also attaches great importance to giving its members’ CEOs the opportunity to speak at such events. As such, on 18 May, Clemens Först, Chairman of Rail Freight Forward (RFF) & CEO at Rail Cargo Group, spoke at the Ministerial Event on “The future of supply chains: Innovation and regulation for greener, more accessible freight transport” together with high-level ministers. RFF is the platform for the European rail freight sector in which priorities are defined to address common challenges with the aim of strengthening rail freight as the backbone of a sustainable end-to-end logistics chain that can run seamlessly across borders and offer superior products to the market. As part of actions taken to highlight and demonstrate the attractiveness of the railways, UIC, in its capacity as PMO, steer the Rail Freight Forward coalition.

Mr Först insisted on the following points:

  • Sustainable land transport directly translates into increasing rail‘s modal share in the transport mix, which can be rather easily achieved by creating a more level playing field vs. road and providing sufficient rail infrastructure capacity for cargo
  • Liberalisation and high price sensitivity of shippers has forced logistics providers to prioritise productivity over resilience - crises like the current one highlight the need for strategic reserves for e.g. wagons for grain transport
  • Austria is a European benchmark country in respect of rail modal share due to a targeted subsidy scheme, e.g. for single wagon load traffic and a strategic investment program in rail infrastructure

On 19 May, Mohamed Khlie, CEO of ONCF and President of the UIC Africa region and Vice-President of UIC delivered a speech during the second plenary session on the theme: “better collaboration for sustained inclusion” with, notably, Maruxa Cardama, Secretary General SLOCAT Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport, Angela Maria Orozco Gomez, Minister of Transport Colombia, Yuji Hirako, Vice Chairman ANA HOLDINGS INC. and Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General, Airports Council International World (ACI).

He spoke about the ways of cooperation to be explored to strengthen inclusive and intelligent mobility by mentioning several levers:

  • Promoting or overhauling the regulatory framework for better control of the governance of inclusive mobility
  • Adopting an integrated strategic planning system is essential to drawing up a development plan for inclusive, sustainable, effective and efficient mobility
  • Offering multiple and collective alternative mobility solutions that are accessible and local
  • Stimulating digital acceleration with innovative services
  • Optimal investment in transport infrastructure and systems

He then invited the participants to take part in the 11th edition of the World High Speed Congress, which will take place from 7 to 10 March 2023 in Marrakesh, Morocco.

As part of the development of the Moroccan rail network, a master plan for high-speed lines was drawn up in 2007 to build a network with a length of 1500 km. Called ’Morocco Rail Plan’, it is composed of two main railway axes: the ’Atlantic’ axis, from Tangier through Rabat, Casablanca, and Marrakech to serve Agadir, and the ’Maghreb’ axis linking Casablanca, Rabat, Fez and Oujda.

The first stage of this master plan, called Al Boraq, consisted in the construction of the first Arab-African line between Tangier and Kenitra (about 200 km) was inaugurated on November 2018.

African railway networks and African Union are creating efficient, environmentally friendly, interoperable transport system within the Agenda 2063, “The Africa we want!”, Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa’s rail. In this context, the African railway sector will need financial, regulatory and technical support for the maintenance of the existing railway networks and rolling stock, and for the creation of the future network of high-speed and conventional lines, with the UIC Objectives being to provide technical support to the African railway sector.

Maruxa Cardama, from SLOCAT Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport, which mission is to enable collaborative knowledge and action for sustainable, low carbon transport and bring the voice of the movement into international climate change and sustainability processes, highlighted 5 key messages during this session:

  • The transport decarbonisation tunnel vision: we need to connect the different interconnected challenges to mitigation, equity aspects, air quality and the resilience of transport (among others). We need to connect these challenges to the wider social economic transformations that we have seen out there whether it is the notions of local economy, shared economy, circular eco or energy dependency.
  • We need to put people first, not technology.
  • There is no transport policy: there is neutral inclusion. We need to deliver pro-inclusion policies
  • The transversal nature of transport makes it a natural vector for cross-cutting collaboration
  • Investment: questioning the social and environmental impact of money

François Davenne participated at a Ministerial Round Table together with Ministers from 6 high level ministerial representations including the Ministry of Transport of Egypt (host country of the COP27), along with Daniele Violetti, UNFCCC, Mohamed Mezghani, UITP, and Michael Peter, Siemens Mobility. This session was on “Transport and climate change: Moving forward from COP26”.

Talking about decarbonisation, he said “the single most important thing that we can do to reduce global emissions is to shift a greater share of goods and passenger traffic to rail”.

It echoes a statement repeatedly made by the UIC Chairman. Krzysztof Mamiński, CEO of PKP S.A. : “I believe that innovative transport, supported by a mix of multimodal solutions will draw a new transport paradigm and transform customer experience

Mr Davenne presented the UIC 2030 Vision “Design a better future” and highlighted the importance of policy support & political priority to modal shift to railway and public transport in the coming years.

He also added: “UIC and UITP join forces to develop a mix of multimodal solutions:

  • Multimodal digital service and multimodal ticketing service (OSDM, FSM)
  • Digital solutions for innovative transport, (FRMCS, 5G)

The combination of these technologies will both increase the capacity of existing networks and, more importantly, transform the customer experience, so as to gain strong support for a paradigm shift”.

In a second part, he addressed that, even if the capacity can be increased by technology, public and private sectors must work together to build more rail infrastructure to handle a more significant part of mobility while working on better integration with public transport systems and active mobilities.
All of these concepts are reflected in the UIC’s “Manifesto” document to be published in June.

The priority for our rail sector is indeed to implement innovative & disruptive projects at regional & global level scale to bring the UIC 2030 vision, approved by UIC members, to life and design a better future:

  • To transform cities and connect communities
  • To use clean energy, technology and innovations
  • To promote intermodality and seamless connections
  • To transform customer experience

That day also gave Philip Van den Bosch, UIC Senior Freight Advisor, the opportunity to speak at two sessions.

The first session was on the topic “Connectivity and inclusive growth in emerging economies: the role of regional freight transport”. He highlighted that regional freight is important for its regional mobility and because it makes those unlocked regions more interesting for investors which in turn generates development. Rail is also important as it is part of the solution, especially concerning its impact on the climate.

He also outlined the different challenges if we want true multimodal solutions including equal societal costs between modes and better infrastructures.
As a solution to these challenges, he talked about:

  • the corridor development around major industrial axes
  • a focus on interoperability between modes but also within the rail sector between all parties
  • the right policy measures with a regulatory framework which should facilitate and not hamper intermodality

The second one was dedicated to Asian Transport Outlook as a common transport knowledge base for Asia and the Pacific.

During this session, they discussed opportunities to collaborate with the ADB.

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François Davenne, UIC Director General and Mohamed Mezghani, Secretary General, UITP
Mohamed Rabie Khlie, ONCF Director General, Chairman of UIC Africa and UIC Vice-Chairman
Maruxa Cardama, Secretary General SLOCAT Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport
Clemens Först, Chairman of Rail Freight Forward & CEO at Rail Cargo Group
Philip Van Den Bosch, UIC Senior Freight Advisor
Philip Van Den Bosch, Florence Albert, Joo Ha Hyun (UIC)
Discussion with the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC)
Discussion with the International Labour Organization (ILO)
Discussion with the Asian Development Bank (ADB)