The 9th Meeting of the UIC Regional Assembly for the Middle-East (RAME) was held on 1-2 October in Aqaba, Jordan, at the invitation of Aqaba Railway Corporation (ARC) and Jordan Hejaz Railway (JHR). The Director-General’s meeting was opened by Eng. Hussein Krishan, Director-General of ARC and Mr. Salah Al-Louzi, Director-General of JHR, together with Mr. Ismet Duman, Deputy Director-General of TCDD representing Mr. Süleyman Karaman, TCDD President and UIC RAME Chairman, and Mr. Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General.
The meeting was attended by representatives of TCDD, ARC, JHR, METRA, IRR, UIC and for the first time – as a guest before being admitted as a new member – Qatar Railway Company (QRC).
During the opening of the meeting speakers reported on the railway projects in the region, in particular the ambitious projects of a high speed network in Turkey, the plan to build 900 km of new lines in Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) railway project.
In his opening address Jean-Pierre Loubinoux warmly thanked the Host railways ARC and JHR for their hospitality in the exceptional location of the Gulf of Aqaba, and reminded participants that the meeting had had to be postponed due to the current unstable situation in several Arab countries. It was therefore extremely important to hold this meeting to give new impetus to the regional activities, and adopt decisions and strategic course of action on the following issues:
-Governance of the UIC Regional Assembly for the Middle-East (mandates of Chairman and Vice Chairmen)
Evaluation of the results of the UIC Middle-East Regional Office based in Tehran,
Decisions on the Regional Action Plan for 2012-2013, and first strategic course of action for the 2012 budget
Extension of the UIC Region Middle-East to new members in the Middle-East
On the issue of governance, UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux had submitted a written proposal to all CEOs from the region prior to this meeting. Considering the strong personal commitment of Mr. Süleyman Karaman in chairing the Regional Assembly and considering the potential role of Turkish Railways at the crossroads between the Middle-East, Asia and Europe, it was proposed that Mr. Karaman’s mandate as the UIC RAME Chairman for 2011-2012 be renewed. This proposal was unanimously accepted by the railways represented (as well as by SRO and Niroo Rail after the meeting).
The proposal also included the renewal of the mandate of Mr. Ali Abdol Saheb-Mohammadi, Vice Minister for Road and Transportation, President of Iranian Railways as the 1st UIC RAME Vice Chairman, to pay tribute to the strong support of UIC regional activities by RAI and the excellent work achieved by the UIC Middle-East Regional Office in Tehran. Also renewed was the mandate of Mr. George Mokabari, Director-General of Syrian Railways (CFS) as 2nd Vice Chairman.
After a discussion on the prospects of extending RAME membership and so covering a larger territory in the region, the UIC Director-General proposed to create a new mandate for a 3rd Vice Chairman to support the current leading team. In order to pay tribute to his very effective support and strong personal commitment to the UIC regional activities, it was proposed that Eng. Hussein Krishan, Director General of Aqaba Railway, be nominated as the UIC RAME 3rd Vice Chairman, which was unanimously endorsed by the participating members.
A high-level event to promote a vision of the future railway system for the Middle-East
Paul Véron, UIC Director Communications and Coordinator for the Middle-East, presented the main activities implemented by the UIC Regional Office for the Middle-East in Tehran, on behalf of Mr. Abbas Nazari, Director of the UIC Regional Office. The activities achieved in 2011 included among others:
- Nominating contact persons in all RAME railways in order to facilitate cooperation
- Preparing a database of railway executives, transport ministers, heads of international organisations, international funds, banks and investment institutes, etc.
- Publishing the first edition of the “Middle-East Railways Directory” (distributed in Aqaba)
- Identifying experts in all RAME railways to invite to the technical workshops on Rail Safety, Asset Management and Infrastructure Maintenance, Desert Operations, High Speed
- Preparing agreements, MoUs with international institutions such as ECO, UNESCAP
- Attracting new members to the UIC Regional Assembly, the next being Qatar Railway Company (QRC)
Participants congratulated Mr. Nazari and the UIC Middle-East Regional Office and expressed satisfaction with all activities successfully launched on behalf of the Middle-Eastern railway community. The Regional Office is requested to further develop these activities in close cooperation with all Middle-Eastern railways.
Paul Véron then presented an updated 2012-2013 Action Plan for the UIC Middle-East Region that provided an opportunity for intense exchange among the assembly members.
As a result, the main activities in the next period will focus on:
- The organisation of a High-level Conference in the second half of 2012 (country and location to be confirmed) with the aim of presenting a vision of a coherent, interconnected, competitive rail transport system for the Middle-East in the future. This event will provide a unique opportunity to meet with railway stakeholders (governments, financial institutions, business partners) and present the main railway projects in the Middle-East
- The follow-up of technical workshops and working groups on Rail Safety (Rail Safety database for the Middle-East, Rail Safety Management System, participation in the worldwide ILCAD campaign – awareness campaign on safe behaviour at level crossings), Infrastructure Maintenance, Desert Operations (developing guidelines based on the experience of UIC members from various regions)
- The preparation of the 1st International Oil-Rail Conference organised at the initiative of Niroo Rail with UIC support
- The development of educational and training programmes (new project on the creation of a Middle-East Network of Rail Training Centres (MENRTC)
- The organisation of a High Speed Seminar in Ankara, open to all Middle-Eastern railways, in the 2nd quarter of 2012)
- -A new group dedicated to all aspects of Interoperability (Interoperability becoming a sensitive issue in the region as railway networks will become increasingly interconnected)
Following admission of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – National Transport Authority – as a new UIC Member in June 2011 in Warsaw, the next candidate will be the Qatar Railway Company (QRC) that is set to join UIC at the next General Assembly on 8 December in Paris.
The 10th RAME Meeting is planned to be held at the invitation of Qatar Railway Corporation in the first week of June 2012 in Doha, Qatar.