Information published on 21 May 2013 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 347.

11th Meeting of UIC Regional Assembly for Middle-East meets in Esfahan, Iran

Rail Vision document for the Middle-East to be prepared

  • Middle East

The 11th Meeting of the UIC Regional Assembly for the Middle-East (RAME) was held on 5 and 6 May 2013 in the historic city of Esfahan at the kind invitation of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways. On 5 May the meeting of the UIC Middle-East Assistant group was held and on 6 May the UIC Middle-East Directors-General meeting was held. The UIC Regional Assembly Meeting was chaired by Mr Süleyman Karaman, President and Director-General of Turkish State Railways (TCDD).

The Deputy Governor of the City of Esfahan, Dr Jamali Nejad, and Mr Abdol Ali Saheb-Mohammadi, Vice Minister for Roads, Transport and Urban Development of the I.R. of Iran, President of Iranian Railways (RAI) and UIC RAME 1st Vice-Chairman, warmly welcomed all participants as the meeting’s hosts, this being the second RAME meeting taking place in Esfahan (in 2007 the kick-off meeting of the UIC Regional Assembly for the Middle-East was already hosted by RAI). Also taking the floor at the opening of this meeting together with Mr Karaman were Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director-General of UIC and Eng. Hussein Krishan, Director-General of Aqaba Railway Corporation (ARC) in Jordan, and UIC RAME Vice-Chairman.

The following members from the UIC Middle-Eastern Region were represented by their Director-General or representative: TCDD (Turkey), RAI, Niroorail, METRA (Iran), ARC, JHR (Jordan), CFS, SHR (Syria), IRR (Iraq) together with representatives from candidate railways to UIC membership (Sina Rail Pars, Rail TimaFraz, Boniad Mostazafan Co., Iran, ..). The UIC Regional Office for the Middle-East based in Tehran (and located in RAI headquarters) was represented by its Director Mr Abbas Nazari, Director General of International Affairs and Investments at RAI, and several members of the Regional Office team.

On opening the meeting, RAME Chairman Mr Süleyman Karaman gave an overview of the numerous railway projects currently under development in the Middle-Eastern region (including the TCDD projects in Turkey), a way of demonstrating the dynamism of railway transport in the entire region. Mr Saheb-Mohammadi for Iran also presented the ambitious railway plans and projects in his country. One of the spectacular projects is the construction of the Tehran-Tabriz railway line section crossing the city of Tehran underground. This project combines the construction of the railway line, the construction of large car parks and the reconstruction of a “green” city on the surface.

Click here to watch the video of the Tehran-Tabriz line construction:

UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux stated that coming back to Esfahan where UIC RAME actually started in 2007, provided a good opportunity to look back at all the work already achieved and results already obtained by this UIC Region over the last six years. During this period, a number of satisfying achievements in activities initiated by the Regional Assembly and carried out or monitored by the Regional Office set up in 2009 in Tehran, in close cooperation with all members and the UIC Coordinator and UIC HQ in Paris. The positive developments include the continuous extension of the UIC Middle-East community (after Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, the prospect of new members from Oman, Afghanistan, Iran,..), the development of agreements with international organisations (ECO, UNESCAP,..), the drafting of strategic papers (e.g. “Regional and Supranational Rail Links in the Middle-East”), the creation of networks of experts for all railway specialities, the organisation of a number of technical seminars and workshops (on railway safety, desert operations, infrastructure maintenance, high speed), the definition of a series of training programmes with the support of TCDD (Middle-East Rail Training Centre MERTCe in Eskisehir) and UIC HQ (Expertise Development Division), the creation of communications tools for the region (UIC Middle-East website, Esmerk rail business and transport news service every fortnight, etc.
The UIC Regional Assembly for the Middle-East (RAME) succeeded in becoming a strong professional and human community, marked by a strong cooperation spirit despite the instability and tensions currently existing in the Region in the political, economic or social fields.

The UIC Director-General took this opportunity to warmly thank and congratulate for their personal commitment Mr Süleyman Karaman, who has been chairing and leading UIC Middle-East (RAME) since its creation in December 2006 and made TCDD into one of the pillars of RAME’s activities, Mr Saheb-Mohammadi for the leading role of Iranian Railways in UIC structures, Executive Board, UIC RAME, and the numerous activities hosted by RAI in Iran, as well as Mr Abbas Nazari for the continuous and successful extension of the scope of activities of the Regional Office in Tehran (see link to UIC Director-General’s speech in Esfahan).

A new Rail Vision for the Middle-East

An important achievement from Mr Loubinoux’s point of view was the UIC RAME high-level Conference “Rail Vision, Projects and Perspectives” held on 4 – 5 November 2012 in Amman at the kind invitation of Aqaba Railway (ARC) and Jordan Hejaz Railway (JHR) under the High-Patronage of the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, as well as Minister of Transport, of the Kingdom of Jordan, Mr Alaa A. Batayneh. This high-level conference provided an excellent opportunity to present all railway projects (including multimodal projects) in the Middle-East and to highlight the regional dimension of the future network. The strategic objective is to move towards an “intregated, competitive, rail transport system” serving the economy and the populations from the region. The conference ended with the presentation of the “Amman Declaration”, summarising all challenges and actions to be undertaken by Middle-Eastern railways with UIC’s support, to draw the most benefit from the development of this mode of transport in the region.

The next step is the preparation of a Vision 2030 document for the Middle-East to be used to promote rail transport in relation with all stakeholders, governments, international organisations, potential investors... This strategic paper to be prepared by the Regional Office in close cooperation with all Middle-Eastern railways and UIC, should present all existing railway (and multimodal) projects and highlight their contribution to a regional transport system, underline the contribution to economy and mobility of people and goods as well as to sustainable development, describe the main challenges for railways (interoperability, quality, competitiveness, costs,..) and the answers that railways want to offer. This vision document could integrate large parts of the report published by the Regional Office ("Regional and Supranational Rail Links in the Middle-East") as well as the “Amman Declaration” approved by all RAME Members last November in Jordan.

Speech by Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux available here:

http://uic.org/com/IMG/pdf/speech_jp_loubinoux_11th_rame_meeting_6_may_2013.pdf

Activities Report and 2013-2014 Action Plan for UIC RAME

Mr Abbas Nazari, Director of the UIC Regional Office, reported on activities achieved by the Office since its establishment in 2009. All these activities are described in an activities report that was distributed to attending Directors-General and a video clip summarising all these actions was shown.

Please click here to see the video:

Paul Véron, Director at UIC HQ, Coordinator for the Middle-East, opened a discussion on the 2013-2014 Action Plan for the UIC Middle-Eastern Region. In addition to the issue of developing a strategic Rail Vision paper for the region, the updated Action Plan will include an important number of important conferences, seminars and workshops, responding to priorities for Middle-Eastern railways, in particular:

  • Investors Forum in Qatar, UAE or Turkey (3rd week of January 2014),
  • Interoperability Seminar in Qatar or another country, TBC (1st quarter of 2014),
  • International Rail-Ports / Oil-Rail Seminar in Tehran (December of 2013 or beginning of 2014),
  • Training Seminar on Rail Safety (MERTCe, Eskisehir, Turkey), November 2013
  • UIC RAME WG on Rail Safety (Safety database for the Middle-East, Safety Management), date to be confirmed,
  • UIC RAME WG on Infrastructure Maintenance and Desert Operations (Amman), November or December 2013.

Action Plan available here:

http://uic.org/com/IMG/pdf/action_plan_rame_.pdf

The 12th Meeting of the UIC Regional Assembly for the Middle-East (RAME) will be held at the kind invitation of Jordanian Railways (Aqaba Railway, Jordan Hejaz Railway) on 11 November 2013 in Jordan (Dead Sea).

For further information, please contact Paul Véron, Director, UIC Coordinator for the Middle-East: veron@uic.org