On 25 January, UIC HQ was honoured with a visit by a railway delegation from China. One of the aims of the visit was to discuss stronger involvement in the IRRB, the International Rail Research Board.
Participating in the meeting were colleagues from the Chinese rail operator CR as well as from the main Chinese rail research institute CARS: Mr LUO Qingzhong, Vice President of CARS, Ms CHANG Jing, Deputy Director of the CARS Research Department, Mr HUO Baoshi, Director of Standards, CR and Mr ZHAO Zhangshan, CARS Deputy Director of International Affairs. From UIC, the participants were Mr Jerzy Wisniewski, Director of Fundamental Values, Mr Marc Antoni, Director of the Rail System Department and Mr Dennis Schut, Secretary of the IRRB, Fundamental Values Department.
CARS was one of the founding members of the IRRB in 2005 and has participated on and off in IRRB’s work . However, now it has the desire to become an active member of this UIC Working Body. This was of course very much welcomed by UIC. CARS is the main rail research institute and works closely together with China Rail (CR) in providing research and carrying out important tests, such as the recent testing of the Chinese high-speed rail system at 350 km/h.
Among other subjects, IRRB’s overall structure, missions, main activities and work plan were discussed. The most important body of work for this year consists in drafting the second edition of the GVRD document, the Global Vision for Railway Development, a draft version of which should be ready before the summer, for a first presentation to the UIC GA in Budapest.
Usually, the IRRB meetings are organised around three to four web conference a year and two to three plenary meetings usually linked to the UIC GA or another important event such as INNOTRANS in Berlin or WCRR (28 October – 1 November in Tokyo). When needed, ad hoc working group meetings are organised. At this moment, the following meetings have been planned:
- 19 February – WG1 for the drafting of the new “Global Vision” GVRD document, to be held in Warsaw, Poland at the offices of IK
- 28 February – a Plenary web conference at UIC HQ and on line, covering the present Action Plan
- 25 June (date tbc) – a Plenary meeting, linked to the UIC GA in Budapest
- End of October (date tbc), linked to the 2019 WCRR
- December (date tbc), linked to the UIC GA
CARS mentioned that besides participating in all the five main strategic working areas of the IRRB – also in a management type of role – it would also be very interested in contributing to the organisation of WCRR in future. Mr Wisniewski said that the Chinese participation would be very welcome in any of the main areas. Besides that, the three-year term of the IRRB chair-team will come to an end in December 2019. CR and CARS are invited to inform UIC of their interest in any of the positions of the chair team, consisting of a chairman and five vice-persons. The IRRB Terms of Reference have been sent to the Chinese colleagues. At their request, Mr Wisniewski mentioned that CARS indeed is very welcome to host one of the future IRRB meetings and some suggestions were made.
Another issue discussed was closer cooperation between CARS and the UIC in the area of standardisation. Mr Marc Antoni explained the history of the so-called “Leaflets” and the present process of analysing them all and where necessary turning some of them into an IRS (International Rail Solution), a voluntary standard, better suited to the 21st century. UIC does this in close cooperation with the existing official international standardisation bodies. CARS is already involved in some of the UIC expert working bodies dealing with technical issues in the area of standardisation, but stronger participation and input from the CARS experts in many of the important working bodies is very welcome, as well as possible Chinese secondees.