The XLII session of OSJD Ministers was hosted in Vilnius, the capital of the Republic of Lithuania from 3 – 6 June 2014. The session was attended by delegations of OSJD member countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Hungary, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, People’s Republic of China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and the Republic of Estonia. The session was attended by representatives of international organisations such as OTIF, UIC, CCTT and OTIF which signed the MOUs with the OSJD to develop cooperation. In addition the representative of the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport of the European Commission (DG MOVE) attended the session.
Welcoming the plenary session, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania Mr Algirdas Butkevicius talked about the important role of OSJD in ensuring transport links on the continent and Lithuanian railways in the transport system of the country.
The Government of the Republic of Lithuania, he said, pays great attention to the development of Lithuanian railways with a view to their integration into the European and international rail systems. Increasing volumes of goods are being sent in the direction of Russia and Belarus thanks to services such as “Viking” – the intermodal train project of Lithuanian railways launched 10 years ago – which connects the chain of maritime container and piggyback lines of the Baltic region with the Black, Mediterranean and Caspian Seas, as well as the “Baltic Wind” freight container train which carries automotive parts to Kazakhstan.
Priority is given to the implementation of the “Rail Baltica” project, which plans to establish a 1,435 mm gauge direct rail connection to the European railway network.
The session was chaired by the Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Lithuania Mr Rimantas Sinkevičius, and by Mr Tadeusz Szozda, Chairman of the OSJD Committee.
Mr Tadeusz Szozda reported on the OSJD Activities for 2013. He noted that in accordance with the activities and recommendations developed by OSJD together with ministries and railways, steps were performed on the reconstruction of railway lines and upgrading the infrastructure in the transport corridors of OSJD that will raise the level of freight in OSJD railway member countries to six billion tonnes and the transport of passengers to more than four billion people.
In 2013, the work was continued on the issues of railway transport policy, the implementation of the development of transport corridors of OSJD to facilitate border crossing in international rail passenger and freight transport as well as to increase the competitiveness of railways to attract additional volumes of transit of international transport to rail transport market.
Mr Jean- Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of UIC in his video speech, noted that the railways are now about to experience a renaissance offered on one side by the available technological possibilities and on the other by a growing need for mobility of people and goods; at the same time the competition, the market laws and the increasingly urgent need to optimise the resources at hand suggest making full use of the results already available and looking to apply them more extensively.
In the railway field, standardisation is one of the main tools to consolidate the achievements obtained, to allow for the development and dissemination and thus it constitutes a key asset in the hands of the various railway companies.
For many years UIC, thanks to its associative nature, has undertaken a path to enhance its natural vocation of the World Organisation for Railway Standardisation in respect of its tradition and of the heritage of railway knowledge accumulated over more than 90 years of history.
The XLII session accepted the application of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for OSJD membership and accession to the SMPS and SMGS Agreement.
In line with its commitments and strategy, UIC will pursue its information and explanatory work with its members in order to make better known the contents of the agreement with OSJD on international railway standards, and the measures to be taken from the end of this summer for an expected signature by November.