Tuesday 12 November 2013

2nd TOPRAIL Project Meeting held in Vall de Núria, Spain, on 21st and 22nd October, 2013

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The 2nd TOPRAIL project meeting was hosted by Catalan Railways (FGC) at the invitation of the project Chairman Carles Casas Esplugas.

Prior to the meeting, FGC provided a presentation of its two rack railways – the only ones in Spain: one to the Montserrat Monastery and the other one to a mountain resort at Vall de Núria in the Pyrenees, approx. 140 km north of Barcelona, where FGC also owns a hotel, in which the subsequent project meeting took place.

“Making the tourist potential of own product offers visible and sharing experiences in operation and marketing with other partners is one of the objectives of the TOPRAIL project,”Carles Casas Esplugas said. “Indeed, there is a market for railway tourism products, and selling a railway trip as an event is much more than simply providing a transportation service from A to B,” he added.

FGC is indeed active in both markets. They provide suburban public transport on behalf of public authorities in the city and region of Barcelona and operate the above-mentioned mountain rack railways, plus a heritage train and a restored small industrial train for leisure and tourism purposes.

The TOPRAIL project features a wide range of railway-based tourism products. It starts with the operation of a local railway line as a tourist attraction, goes on to the creation of a tourism package around regularly scheduled trains, then on to organising charter trains for special events, and ends with the running of multi-day luxury cruise trains for which the target group is ready to spend thousands of Euros per trip.

Discussions at the project meeting came to the conclusion that TOPRAIL could be developed as a brand under which railway tourism products could be made visible to potential customers at a central point. In this context, TOPRAIL should become an open platform and welcome all members who offer a product that fits into the TOPRAIL portfolio.

“We have created a solid foundation, but now we have to build up the house”, Jim Deegan from Railtours Ireland First Class said. “TOPRAIL has potential, and sharing experience with more and more members in the world will make this project grow and become a name in railway tourism.”

Any party interested in joining this project, whether a UIC member or not, is kindly requested to contact Mr Carles Casas Esplugas at FGC: ccasas@fgc.cat or Mr Dirk Oelschläger at UIC: oelschlaeger@uic.org

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