On 3 and 4 October 2012, the Rail Investment South East Europe conference took place at the Sheraton hotel in Zagreb. The conference was hosted by HŽ Holding, and it was organised in the course of the week when the Croatian Railways’ Day was also celebrated. The 6th Rail Investment South East Europe conference was organised by Russell Publishing, and it served as a place of gathering for many directors general of railway undertakings from South Eastern Europe, representatives of railway unions and financial institutions. UIC was represented by Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General.
At the beginning of the conference, the representatives were greeted by Mr Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, who pointed out the future of railways in this region lies in the development of intermodal transport. He said “There is no one in Croatia who can be satisfied with the condition of infrastructure and operators, because it did not use the advantage of its favourable geographical position in the past 10 years. Therefore, one of government’s priorities is to invest in railways, primarily in European TENT-corridors, on which there will soon be the Croatian part of Corridor V and X. We are expecting the most from infrastructure and striving to strengthen the transport route towards Rijeka and the Ljubljana – Belgrade route, and starting 2013/2014, there will be a greater investment cycle momentum. Together with EU funds, national funds will also be earmarked for the strengthening of the regional component around major cities.” “HŽ Passenger Transport will publish a tender within two to three weeks for the procurement of 32 new EMUs and 12 DEMUs, and we are seeking a strategic partner for HŽ Cargo, so that it can participate successfully on the market after the liberalisation on 1 July 2013. In a few years, railways will connect other branches of industry as well, Croatian routes will be competitive, and we will build them in cooperation with neighbours”, he added.
Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, said in his presentation entitled Facing the challenges in the development of railway systems for interoperable train management, that the European Commission (EC) will invest 11 billion dollars in the transport sector, i.e., 44% will be invested in the rail sector until 2030, of which 80% will go into infrastructure, and 20% will go into rolling stock.
Currently, 12 projects are being implemented, which concern intercity freight transport and for which 25% of investment will be allocated in the next years. An initiative of producers and the railway sector will be implemented in 2012 in the EU, within which 700 billion euros are intended for rail project investment in seven years. Homogenous information systems should also be introduced. UIC opened a Railway Forum in which all participants will receive data on national rail systems’ technical specifications, as well as information on new projects such as satellite train monitoring and new ticket charging system. It is necessary to achieve interoperability which will facilitate border-crossing and improve safety measures and establish a situation in which modes are not competing, but complementing each other. Therefore, it is necessary to develop intermodal and intramodal transport because of ever larger urban centres, said Mr Loubinoux.
Libor Lochman, Executive Director of the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), held a lecture on the topic of rail system harmonisation with EU legislation, in which he pointed out the main hindrances to this method for increased interoperability and optimisation of border procedures. Together with the public sector which is interacting with the customer, in order to achieve competitiveness it is necessary to renew infrastructure, develop intra-modal competitiveness and determine the ways of charging track access. Furthermore, Mr Lochman stressed that an independent regulatory body has to be established which will ensure market access, guarantee prevention of discrimination regarding track access and charge for infrastructure access. Together with this, upon the proposal of the European Railway Agency, special national agencies have to be established which will issue authorisations to cross-border operators and national authorities for transport safety, which will supervise and monitor what is under EC authority. As one of the problems, Mr Lochman pointed out the uneven distribution of investment in road and rail transport in CEE countries.
Within the scope of the conference, on platform 1 of Zagreb Main Station a display of EMU and DEMU prototypes was organised, developed by the companies Končar and TŽV Gredelj.
UIC South-East Europe Railway Group General Directors’ (SERG)
In the framework of the Rail Investment South East Europe conference, the UIC South-East Europe Railway Group General Directors’ (SERG) meeting was held in Zagreb as well and chaired by Mr. Valtich.
UIC was represented by Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General.
SERG is a special regional group of UIC established several years ago. It regularly meets to share information as well act on a bilateral and multilateral basis. The meeting, which gave the opportunity to exchange between General Directors, was mainly devoted to the analysis of the different situations and regional challenges. Jean-Pierre Loubinoux was also able to give UIC’s perspective and contribution for better regional development and the development of main corridors to be put in place in the future.