On 18 November, UIC Director General François Davenne participated in the sixth annual railway workshop organised by the World Bank. The title of this year’s workshop, which was held as a virtual event, was “Creating Successful Cross-Border Railway Services”. The annual railway workshops are the result of successful ongoing cooperation between the Austrian Ministry of Finance and the World Bank. The annual railway workshops offer an important platform for international exchange, peer learning and networking. Mr Davenne participated in a session focusing on regulations and policies to improve the efficiency and safety of border crossings from the public sector perspective.
Mr Michael Lestingi, Director, Office of Policy and Planning at the Federal Railroad Administration, provided an overview of rail border crossings between the U.S. and Canada, investments to improve border crossings, bilateral cooperation between the U.S. and Canada, and related current issues. Mr Matej Zakonjšek, Director at Transport Community, focused on cross-border transport in the Balkans, and Mr Manuel A. Garza Jr., National Director for the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism Office at U.S. Customs and Border Protection shared experience from an ongoing operation and discussed the joint inspection process between U.S. and Mexican customs.
Mr Davenne presented UIC’s work on corridors, highlighting some trends in rail freight. With rail being the backbone of the logistics chain, corridor development at European and global level is not only a sustainable challenge, led by financial pressure, but also presents a challenge in terms of mixed priorities such as interoperability and capacity optimisation, digitalisation (standardisation, data exchange), safety and security, and productivity enhancement.
Mr Davenne then presented the current status of development of transcontinental corridors, as well as European ambitions in this area, mentioning the “30 by 2030” rail freight strategy to boost modal shift led by the Rail Freight Forward initiative. He added that growth and modal shift rely on strengthening innovation and enhancing the speed of digitalisation. Regarding the current Covid-19 crisis, he reminded participants that rail freight had been quite robust and that transcontinental trains had run during the pandemic.
He also called for multilateral thinking from the outset and for strong cooperation and alignment with partners to spread knowledge and positively impact international rail freight.
Mr Davenne thanked the World Bank for the opportunity offered to UIC to learn more about experiences in other areas.