Two days ago UIC was given the opportunity to provide its railway input to the Transport Forum organised by the World Bank in Washington D.C. This 2011 edition was dedicated to “50 years of Innovation in Transport: Achievements and Future Challenges”.
Rail, said Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, is becoming an increasingly global concern. Close to 50 billion Euros were spent in 2009-2010 on European railways with new investments emerging elsewhere in the world. In terms of global infrastructure the rail sector represents an average of 1 million km and 15,000 km of high speed rail lines.
Mr Loubinoux went on to speak of the new challenge of mobility. Transport services, he said, enable mobility, which in turn enable economic growth leading to urban expansion and economic and environmental impacts such as emissions, congestion and accidents, which in the end inhibits the development of transport services. Something must be done, therefore, to broach this new challenge of mobility in the years to come, particularly with regard to world demographics, as by 2050 the world population will be close to 10 billion and the total freight traffic is set to double. Mobility will continue to create environmental challenges, he said. Given that transport counts for over 50% of the world’s fuel consumption and that within transport rail accounts for only 2% of CO2 emissions, it is evident that rail, as a low-carbon mode, has a major role to play in sustainable development.
Though rail has excellent records in nearly all areas, notably safety, the rail sector does not intend to stop there and has developed strategic ambitions. The target for 2020 is to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% and to use clean electricity as much as possible. By 2050 the aim is to have carbon-free operations.
UIC’s mission, he said, is to promote the development of the railways at world level to meet the challenges of mobility and sustainable development for the benefit of society at large.
UIC’s desire to do better for the rail sector is reflected in the the declaration of sustainable mobility and transport, signed by more than 45 members around the world, and will be presented at a major event at the United Nations in New York on 11 May.
Mr Loubinoux concluded by saying that rail, as a low-carbon mode has an important social and economic role to play, there are many challenges ahead in this fast growing sector but that we must not be complacent and must work hard to improve our position. A sustainable transport system, he added, combines the strength of all modes in one integrated system and rail is capable of being the backbone of a sustainable future transport system.
Two UIC Senior Advisors also participated in this Forum: Mr George Barbu took part in the panel discussion “What must the Bank be doing more of or better, in order to reap the benefits of emerging ITS/ICT opportunities?”, while Mr Teodor Gradinariu gave a presentation on Railway Asset Management.