The 2013 UIC-CER High Level Freight meeting took place in Brussels on 12 April 2013.
On the previous evening, Mr Keir Fitch, Deputy Head of Cabinet of European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, chairs of the rail freight corridors’ executive boards and representatives from national permanent representations to the EU met the rail freight CEOs.
Following the key conclusions from the new CER Rail Freight status report Executive Director Libor Lochman highlighted that the overall impact of EU policy measures introduced throughout the last decade with a view to revitalising rail freight was limited. While the objective of greater intra-modal competition has been reached, with an average of 25% of new entrants on the EU rail freight market, the imbalance between rail and road has increased, with a loss of 2.3 points in rail freight’s modal share between 2000 and 2010. He underlined the need for essential measures:
- Sufficient investment in infrastructure
- A fair level-playing field between all transport modes
- The remove of technical and administrative bottlenecks
Mr Keir Fitch gave an overview of some measures introduced by the Commission in the Fourth Railway Package. He presented the Commission’s views on the one hand for better cooperation between infrastructure managers to facilitate cross-border traffic and on the other for greater powers to ERA, regarding certification of wagons.
Regarding Shift2Rail, Mr Fitch explained that this ambitious programme should provide a large research budget to the rail sector.
He concluded, “interoperability guarantees safety and at the same time decreases the costs. He asked the sector to focus interoperability, governance and market opening”.
The plenary session of 12 April began with the warm welcome of HLFM Chairman Ferdinand Schmidt, Managing director of ÖBB Produktion and Chairman of the UIC Freight Forum. Various topics were debated:
- Jean Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, gave an overview of the 3rd Global Rail Freight Conference with about 250 people from 25 countries who met last October in Tangier (Morocco). The delegates and participants involved in the global logistics system such as logistics operators, maritime transport, ports, intermodal operators, the supply industry, forwarders, and commercial intermediaries, discussed key themes such as international freight corridors, intermodality between maritime and rail transport technological innovations for logistics.
- Introduced by the chairwoman and chairman of corridors 1, 2, 3 and 8, the debate on Rail Freight Corridors highlighted the need for uniformed requirements related on capacity allocation, dispatching rules or even longer trains. The need to coordinate the rail freight operators acting in the advisory boards of the Corridors was underlined. That is the aim of UIC corridor project.
- The increase of Rail Freight Productivity through heavier and longer trains gave Dr Hedderich from DB Schenker Rail and Ms Sylvie Charles from SNCF Geodis the opportunity to present the results of the pilot cases in Germany and between Luxemburg and France. In addition, Bernard Schmitt, UIC project manager, presented some conclusions and recommendations of the UIC global study. The main one demonstrates that any development in increase of length or payload reported reduces the operational costs.
- Regarding the implementation of ERTMS, extra costs and sales shortfalls caused by uncoordinated implementation of ETCS were said not to be acceptable
- The CEOs signed a letter to the EC asking for a connected public database providing the needed information regarding the check for a certified ECM for any wagon incorporated in a train.
- Mr Juergen MUES, member of the SBB management board, presented the future initiative “5L”, focusing on rail freight wagons as the key elements of logistics.
- The chairman F Schmidt presented the outcome of the UIC working group about a new concept of the Freight Forum. The CEOs agreed to a yearly endorsement from Freight CEO’s of the proposed work programme. (High Level Freight UIC-CER meetings)
The next HLFM is scheduled to take place around the same time as the high level infrastructure meeting in Stockholm at the beginning of June 2014.