This was the theme of a one day high level workshop that took place in the impressive HQ building of ZS Serbian Railways in Belgrade on 19 October 2011.
Jointly organised by ZS and the UIC, it was based around the theme of rail as a system and the collaborative efforts necessary to ensure an efficient system.
The event attracted a significant number of senior managers from almost every company in the Balkans area and included not only the hosts but also:
Milovan Markovic, Chairman of the Board and Director-General of the Serbian Railways Joint Stock Company (ZS), opened the event and chaired the whole day.
Zeljko Valentic, Director of International Affairs (ZS), and Simon Fletcher, Regional Coordinator Europe (UIC), facilitated the smooth running of the event.
The seminar started with a series of short presentations from each of the assembled rail companies, each of whose Director-Generals took the floor to inform delegates about the current challenges being faced in the Balkans area.
Each of the companies has very specific issues affecting the way they are developing their business but a number of key elements emerged as ones that are consistent amongst them all – the restructuring of their companies and their networks and the legal and political aspects; integration of their networks with their neighbours and the technical challenges; renovation of the core parts of the system including operational issues, maintenance of track and rolling stock, system performance etc; business development and the associated commercial challenges.
The presentation by Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General and Simon Fletcher, UIC Regional Coordinator, Europe focussed on the role of UIC and how the work undertaken can benefit the Balkan members and then zoomed in on case studies related to safety linked to interoperability, standards and research and development.
The meeting concluded by agreeing that a further event of this kind should be organised next year with a possible focus on network access and maintenance.
There was also the opportunity to meet Serbian Minister for Infrastructure Milutin Mrkonjic, who ex-pressed the overwhelming desire for a strong UIC able to support the development of rail. He expressed the opinion that rail companies today must think internationally as the issues affect us all. Jean-Pierre Loubinoux highlighted the importance of the work being done today in the Balkans area and the importance of it as a core artery (Corridor 10) for interoperability between Europe and the Middle East and Asia.