On 23 November the first General Assembly meeting of the SEESARI project was held at the premises of the Slovenian Railways in the famous “Glass Hall”. High level participants came from Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, France and Turkey. They included a strong representation of the railway operating community as well as staff from the Faculty of Law, construction companies and the railway supply industry.
The main aim of the SEESARI project is to:
- Cluster interested stakeholders to identify the innovative ideas/solutions/projects for railway development and transport
- Bring new ideas and solutions into reality through common projects
- Support the development of rail in South East Europe and support its contribution to the wider European railway system and more sustainable transport
- Contribute to the strengthening of the SEE economy
Following the kick-off meeting in 2016, more than 50 organisations have signed the Declaration of Intent, which can be downloaded from the website www.seesari.org, under construction but active. The website is meant to keep the signatories and other interested parties informed, promote the initiative and exchange information, among others using the members’ space, secured by a password.
During the meeting, the following issues passed under review:
After a welcome and introduction by SEESARI chairman Dr Peter Verlic of the Slovenian Railways and Director of the SZ Transport Research Institute, he reported on all activities to present, discuss and promote the SEESARI initiative. He said that by now, most key players in the region and beyond would know about SEESARI, it would be important to keep up the “awareness campaign”. On the other hand, now is the moment to really start the implementation of the project and proposed activities.
Dr Verlic went on to present the Workplan for 2018 and to mention that SEESARI will be featured on the agenda of the upcoming G4 meeting to which the General-Directors of the Austrian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Croatian and Serbian Railways will participate. Besides this, the issue of the revitalization of the regional railways (ReViTaRail project proposal) will be featured during the meeting. Hopefully these important railway undertakings will agree to support the SEESARI initiative.
The next step will be to answer the invitation of Mr Van De Camp and the Transport Committee of the European Parliament to discuss the implementation of SEESARI. Other important meetings are planned for 2018. After mentioning the main elements of the European Commission’s White Paper and the new draft MAAP of the S2R JU, he presented the main pillars for the future activities of SEESARI which he said were not ‘unsimilar”. The “High Speed” pillar in particular raised an interesting discussion. It was argued that the presented pillars are ok but should be “reworded a little”. In the past, High Speed, meaning 320 km+ would be a smart step forward. However, in the present economic climate one could have some question marks about this regarding the costs and return on investment (SNCF). While some still could support High Speed, others argued that a “High Speed” of 200 km/h could be sufficient. The main thing is that the passengers would be satisfied with the service. Easy and cheap to install features such as WiFi/WLAN would make a significant difference. With the ability to work in the train, the speed becomes less important to a certain degree.
Mr Dennis Schut – secretary to SEESARI – went on to present the UIC, its aims and activities and the benefits and possible ways of supporting the initiative of its members in the strategically important South-East Europe region.
After a very interesting presentation from Mr Guillaume Foeillet about the possible ways in which the SNCF could support SEESARI, Ing. Mgr. David Krásenský from ABIRail CZ gave a very useful presentation about a system-wide approach to the Integration of public transport – tariff, network, and information integration. All presentations will be available on the www.seesari.org website.
Another important issue to deal with was the election of the members of the Steering Committee. After a proposal from the chairman, Mr Miroslav Stojičić, the General-Director of the Serbian Railways was elected to be the chairman of the Steering Committee.
The SEESARI General Assembly was concluded after the presentation of a number of project proposals, initiated by mainly the Slovenian, Serbia, Croatian and Hungarian Railways. SEESARI signatories – as well as other interested parties - are invited to submit their comments and expression of interest to participate in the implementation of the projects.
The first successful GA was concluded with a lunch, offered by the Slovenian Railways.