The second workshop on sustainable tourism by rail and TopRail meeting was held at UIC Headquarters in Paris on 15 March. It was chaired by Mr Carles Casas (FGC), president of the group. UIC was represented by Mr Ignacio Barrón, Director of the Passenger and High Speed Department, Ms Vanessa Pérez, Advisor for the same department and Ms Marie Luz Phillipe from the UIC Sustainable Unit.
Representatives from ÖBB, RZD, KORAIL, CARS, TRAINOSE, FGC, UNECTO and the European Federation of Museums and Tourist Railways (FEDECRAIL) attended the meeting. On this occasion, the attendance for the first time of Ms Sandra Pansini, from FSI and Ms Ana García, from Tren de Ecuador should also be highlighted.
The purpose of the workshop was to present and achieve an approval in principle for a draft Charter on Sustainable Tourism by Rail and Guidelines on the same subject the group has been working on during the last months.
To this aim a review of the previous workshop in Vienna and the briefing paper was presented. For the Vienna meeting, mention was made of the TopRail members’ interventions and the discussion leading to the development of the Charter and Guidelines that formed the tools to implement the Charter.
A review of guidelines from other sectors and related reporting were highlighted. The methodology in developing the draft TopRail Guidelines was detailed and the indicators comprising the proposed Guidelines were itemised. A step-by-step implementation programme was outlined starting with qualitative indicators maturing to quantitative indicators. A text was presented, ultimately for TopRail members’ signature. The Charter itself highlighted actions being taken by TopRail members and complemented by aspirations.
During the same meeting the results of a Survey on the Website TopRail.org launched to obtain objective feedback and use it to make improvements in the future were analysed. The survey was presented by Vanessa Pérez who highlighted the growing interest of the site with more than 21,000 visitors in its 90 first days and the importance of improving it in order not to lose that interest and to meet the future users’ expectations.
Carles Casas announced that FGC had added a button to its homepage (http://www.fgc.es) which links directly to the TopRail site and encouraged the rest of participants to do the same to bring added value to this international collaboration. Some of them such as Tren de Ecuador have already done so (http://trenecuador.com).
Future projects of the group were also discussed, and it was agreed to keep on working on some of these ideas like a market study to better understand the offer, the demand, the challenges and opportunities of the Rail Tourism.