Information published on 9 September 2014 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 414.

RAI/UIC Seminar on Passenger and High Speed issues, from 30 August – 1 September 2014 in Tehran

The video message of Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, is available here:

The UIC Seminar on Passenger Activities and High Speed Rail Traffic was hosted by the Railways of the Islamic Republic of Iran (RAI) under the auspices of UIC in Tehran from 30 – 31 August and 1 September 2014 for three days.

The Iranian railway comprises 10 171 km of single tracks, 1 559 km of double track and 19 km of triple track.

4 782 km of lines are under construction, and 3 456 km of tracks are allowed to operate. The expected rail lines for 2025 is 25 000 km including international corridors such as Kazakhstan-Iran, Asia-Europe, Persian Gulf-Mediterranean sea, Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul, Bandar Abbas-Almaty.

Concerning passenger transportation, 11 companies operate passenger trains which in total carry 25 million passengers a year. Raja is the historical operator and was privatised three years ago.

The participants of this seminar mainly came from Iran. However, some foreign guests participated:

  • Deputy Minister for Roads and Urban Development and RAI President, Dr. Mohsen Pourseyed Aghaie
  • Minister advisors
  • RAI president advisors
  • RAI’s members of the board
  • RAI’s Vice-Presidents
  • Members of think tank
  • Supreme Commission of Accidents
  • Main RAI departments were represented (150 persons)
  • 50 from Raja Passenger Train Company
  • 50 from Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructure of the Country Company
  • 50 from other Iranian companies and organisations
  • 37 from RAI’s districts (Tehran railway, Esfahan railway, Khorasan railway, Fars railway, Azerbaijan railway, Yazd railway, Arak railway, North-East railway, North-West railway, Qom railway)
  • And foreigner guests from Turkey, Jordan Hejaz, Iraq, India, Qatar, Pakistan, Spain, Korea, Japan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan.

The foreign speakers of the Seminar were

  • Mr. Iñaki Barrón, Director of the Passenger and High Speed Department of UIC
  • Mr. Marc Guigon, Senior Advisor Passenger Transport at UIC
  • Mr. Fabrizio Setta, Senior Advisor on Information Technology at UIC
  • Mr. Jesús Planchuelo, SENER
  • Mr. Sergio Barcena, Responsible of Engineering and Fleet management at Eurostar
  • Mr. Andrea Giuricin, NTV and University of Milano in Italy
  • Mr. Ottmar Grein, High Speed Rail Senior consultant at DB International GmbH

Speakers from Iran included Mr. Ali Ghardashi, Director General of Engineering and supervision of Infrastructure Installations, and Dr. J. A. Zakeri, Dean of Railway Engineering Faculty at the Iran University of Science and Technology.
The organisation of the conference was done under the umbrella of RAI with

  • Mr. Abbas Nazari, Director General of International Affairs Bureau
  • Ms. Mozhgan Kordbacheh
  • Ms. Fahimeh Rahbari
  • Mr. Mahdi Tarabi
  • Mr. Ali Abdollahi
  • Mr. Ayoub Noormohammadi
  • Ms. Poopak Ashtari
  • Ms. Shokuh Shoja

Mr. Iñaki Barrón presented the role of UIC which is a professional organisation serving the needs of rail transport through international cooperation at global level.

UIC comprises 240 members in 92 countries. Members are railway undertakings, infrastructure managers, railway research centres, public transport companies. The role of UIC is to promote rail in the world, to provide standards and tools for the members, and to organise conferences.

The passenger activities are organised to develop the activities related to passengers, such as railway stations, regional transport, ticketing and High Speed transport. The main objectives are to achieve a common vision of the railways, and to carry out projects and studies.

Then, Mr. Iñaki Barrón presented the main High Speed reports

  • “High speed and the City”. This report places the railway station in the heart of the city, and the impact of the station on the city has been analysed in several countries. Studies have been conducted on the number of stations in a big city, the location of the station, the functional design, the size of the station and the accessibility of the station in the city. Different points of view have been analysed by infrastructure managers, railway undertakings, city managers and customers
  • “Operations on High Speed stations”. 4 case studies have been analysed with different points of view
  • "Optimal speed on high speed systems”. The objective of this study is to identify the optimum speed range for the high speed railways, through a methodology to calculate the speed for any line or any service
  • “High Speed and Infrastructure costs”. This study aims to describe the different ways to charge the costs of infrastructure to the railway operator for international traffic
  • “Costs on High Speed systems”. This study gives costs concerning construction, maintenance of the infrastructure, rolling stock and operation.

Mr. Iñaki Barrón also presented a report about safety and security, and the special policies concerning High Speed. A security handbook has been published.
All these studies are available at the following link:

Basic Operation Principles

Mr. Ottmar Grein from DB International presented the basic operational principles for High Speed Rail transportation as well as an overview on control centres and safety aspects. There is no unique principle for the operation of the variety of different High Speed Rail applications. But speed has an essential impact on the respective planning, operation and maintenance. Long acceleration and braking distances are typical features and a determining factor for the operation program and the distance of stations. Following the presentation of examples for the planning of High Speed operation, Mr. Grein demonstrated different operation concepts ranging from High Speed Lines with dedicated passenger service and uniform operation patterns to systems with mixed passenger and freight traffic. The latter are the most complex applications regarding to operation planning with numerous impacts on infrastructure, maintenance and costs.

Possibilities for reduction of time travel on classic rail lines

Mr. Jesús Planchuelo, Infrastructure Department Manager of SENER, divided his lecture in two different blocks. First, he gave a lecture on the possibilities of upgrading existing lines for high speed. He indicated the limitations of rail speed and the different aspects to be taken into consideration when it comes to choosing the right speed and the way of increasing it rationally. He observed the difference between “speed” and “travel time”, emphasising the importance of treating both distinctively. Travel time is the real objective and speed is just a strategy, he remarked. He also gave indications about the different strategies of coping with the line upgrading, especially when the upgrading works have to be carried out in coordination with line operation.

In the second block of his lecture, he reviewed and explained the Railway System Implementation Handbook, prepared by SENER for UIC. The Handbook details all phases and stages that the developer has to go through while dealing with the new line implementation process. Aspects like social acceptance, technical criteria, economic analysis, environmental assessment, among others, are taken into account in the Handbook. A clear indication of the inputs and outputs is included in the text for each of the stages, as well as a strategy to manage the stakeholders that may be affected for the new line. The Handbook also remarks the empowerment for each phase, required to go further in the process, indicating who it should come from.

Maintenance of High Speed trains

Sergio Barcena, Engineering and Fleet manager at Eurostar gave a presentation on the organisation for the maintenance of the high speed trains operating between London and the European continent.

Evolving in an increasingly competitive European transport market, Eurostar is seeking to improve the cost per operating mileage while improving the agreed KPI (Key Performance Indicators) in safety, reliability, availability and comfort.

Eurostar has developed three efficiency programmes:

  • Proactive fleet management using RCM (Remote Condition Monitoring) to anticipate the condition of the trains and reduce the unplanned maintenance.
  • Lean maintenance regime by extending the periodicity and segmenting the maintenance tasks in order to adapt the downtime periods to the operational demands and by assessing the human factor impact in safety.
  • Optimised supply chain by creating partnerships with the suppliers in order to obtain the required performance of the components at the best price while optimising the management of the stock levels.

In summary, Eurostar keeps safety as the first goal and has designed its maintenance and operating model regime while enhancing the operations delivery (reliability, punctuality) and the customer’s experience in a continuous improvement approach to increase its efficiency.
The impact of liberalisation on High Speed rail in Italy – the case of NTV
Dr. Andrea Giuricin, creator of the studies office of Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (NTV) and managing director of the research centre of CRIET – Transport of the University Milano Bicocca, presented the new operator in the Italian railway market, to the attendees.
He showed the impact of liberalization on the high speed market in Italy and the benefits for customers.
By stating that NTV could only enter the railway market due to liberalization, Dr Giuricin made clear that NTV strongly favours an open market. There is no single way of opening the market, but he argued the importance for a strong independent regulator, guaranteeing fair competition.
Regulation is a keyword in this process and he suggests focusing more attention on that point in the future.
In his view, the entry of NTV to the market and FS Italiane’s reaction brought many advantages to the customer in terms of price, quality and choice.
It was also suggested that NTV’s activities will have an impact on intermodal transport, where he sees possibility for development. To illustrate this statement he explained that a ticket from NTV includes the possibility of using the local public transport in urban centres, such as Naples, for free.
Overall, Dr. Giuricin evaluated competition in the Italian railway market as an “important experience” and Italy is only the first good example in the liberalisation of the railway market.

Governance in European and Asian railways

Mr. Marc Guigon presented the different types of governance for railways, stations and regional traffic in Europe and Asia.
He underlined the fact that there are 4 main structure models in the world

  • Vertical integrated structures like Hong Kong, Ireland, China which are fully integrated. Austria, Germany, France (after 2015), Italy and Poland are not fully integrated.
  • Vertical separated structures which allow competition between railway undertakings like the Netherlands, UK, Spain, Finland, Denmark… which are fully separated. France, South Korea, Estonia… are not fully separated because the historical railway undertakings are also acting for infrastructure (operation, maintenance…)
  • Horizontal separated structure like Japan where each operator owns and manages its own infrastructure and provides transportation services

Mr. Marc Guigon gave examples of these types of governances, and also for the station management.

Issues concerning the Merits and Prifis tools

Then, Mr. Marc Guigon gave a lecture concerning the issues related to the UIC Merits and Prifis tools. He described the main functionalities of these tools.
Merits is the central timetable database of UIC with all train data and all station data within wider Europe, including Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. Prifis is also a central database of UIC which contains all tariffs and fares for Non Integrated Tickets (NRT) and Integrated Reservation Tickets (IRT). All these databases are shared between all the members of the Merits-Prifis community in order to fill their own journey planners with the aim of providing timetable/fare information and/or selling tickets in another country.

The issues related to Iranian Railways joining the MERITS-PRIFIS community are:

  • Iranian railways can give information and/or sell tickets for journeys in other countries
  • Other railway undertakings can sell tickets for Iranian Railway trains
  • Iranian railways can be positioned as a supplier of IT software solutions: journey planner, APPs.

MERITS PRIFIS technical issues

Fabrizio Setta UIC Senior Advisor on Information Technology (IT) presented the technical aspects of the MERITS PRIFIS activities.
For both, he gave some details about the organisation, actors, standards and processes.
Fabrizio Setta stated that today MERITS gives the possibility to its members to publish their timetables and locations and to use the data of all the other members on their own distribution applications and journey planners.
He focused on the online MERITS tool which today provides real added value with functions such as quality checking, editing and testing.
He then spoke about PRIFIS, as with MERITS the principle is to publish tariffs depending on the option taken by the passenger rail operator, IRT (Integrated Rail Ticket) or NRT (Non-Integrated Rail Ticket).
Fabrizio Setta explained the direct relation between the tariffs used by railways and ticketing which can be with or without reservation depending on the train but also on the period of the month, the day and the time.
He finished his presentation with a description of the EcoPassenger web application, a good example of how the MERITS data are used.

Advanced ticketing system

Fabrizio Setta, UIC Senior Advisor on Information Technology (IT), presented the advanced ticketing system in Europe and Asia.
The presentation followed the Rail Customer Experience lifecycle and highlighted how UIC is supporting its members at each stage.
For the timetable consultations MERITS provides all the data needed by its members to be used on any medium such as smart phones or web.
Likewise for tariff consultations, PRIFIS supplies the tariff data requested by the railway distribution systems.
For booking and availability, Fabrizio emphasised the role of the UIC TEAM and TAP MD working groups that bring together the actors involved in distributions and provide the proper standards and best practices.

Today, data exchanges for availabilities and booking use the HERMES VPN, that connects most of the European railways including Russia and Turkey, and provide features such as translation between different standards and the management of multi-channel open services. Ticketing is a very busy field within the UIC passenger department, as two working groups meet on regular basis, TAG for conventional RCT2 ticket and TAP NT for Home Printed Tickets.
Three news ticketing standards have been developed during the past two years, the Rail Credit Size Ticket (RCCST), the AZTEC Barcode Version 3 including a digital signature and the ongoing Universal Rail Ticket specification (URT).
Examples of a European and an Asian ticketing system were presented, allowing the audience to understand the ticketing trends in an advanced economic market.
Finally, the focus was on back office operations, especially in settlement and clearing between railway partners involved in ticket sales.

Projects in Iranian railways

Mr. Ali Ghardashi presented the projects in Iran railways.
The main projects for High Speed are to connect Tehran to Esfahan and Tehran to Mashhad.
He also presented the links between Iran and Turkey, and Iran to Iraq.
Vulnerability of High Speed railway network from natural disasters
Dr. J. A. Zakeri underlined that the country of Iran is subject to earthquakes. His presentation is focused on excessive rainfall, excessive snowing, land slide, sand, earthquake, severe wind blowing and excessive hot weather.

He described the 4 substantial steps to follow for individual hazards

  • Defining risk border
  • Measuring and setting a suitable controlling system
  • Setting and operating a suitable system in rail network
  • Study for strengthening and preventive methods, like limitation of speed…

This study is based on Japanese experience.


After this conference in Tehran, the UIC team came to Isfahan in order to get a view of the future High Speed railway station, and to visit the historical railway station which has been completely refurbished.
Isfahan Province enjoys the main industrial and economical potential connected to the national rail network of Iranian Railways in 1967 with the aim of providing the raw material and distributing the industrial products of the province.
The length of the main lines of Isfahan rail network is 709 km and the total length of the network amounts to 900 km and five passenger stations which are Kashan, Systan, Badrood, Rozane and Isfahan, of which the largest one is Isfahan Railway. Isfahan station is one of the most beautiful stations of Iranian Railways. Considering its age, beauty and its especial architecture, it is going to be one of the tourist destinations in the future. On this line, the first phase of reconstructing and beautification was started by Mr. Hassan Masouri, Director General of Isfahan Railways in 2013, and it ended in 2014.

During this reconstructing operation, the platforms were reconstructed. A transit hall, as well as the VIP Hall together with knauf work (putting beautiful images on the ceilings) on the entrance and exit halls, were created. Moreover, a new prayer room with the pleasant and peaceful atmosphere was constructed for the passenger.
With the continuation of these activities in 2014, in a second phase, all the tracks in the station will change into slab tracks and an entrance square together with entertainment facilities, green spaces and places and all the facilities which a station should have according to UIC standards will be created in one year.

The future High Speed railway station will be located 8 km north of Isfahan, near the existing football stadium. This station will be connected by metro. It is designed to receive 20 million passengers per year. A new terminus station for urban buses will be built in the station. A new urban centre will be built by the city around the station. Thus, the lectures which were delivered in Tehran will be beneficial to the design of the station.

The existing station will also be connected to the High Speed station by a direct railway line which already exists.

For further information please contact Inaki Barron: and Marc Guigon: