The UIC Loading Guidelines Group (LGG) held its plenary meeting from 24 – 26 September in Clervaux, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. This year’s meeting was marked by the farewell to its chairman, François Crelo, who chaired the LGG for many years and will retire soon. For this occasion, François Crelo invited to his home region, where his company, CFL Cargo, enabled him to organise the meeting in a marvellous environment, that was very much appreciated by all the participants.
During his chairmanship, the UIC Loading Guidelines made important steps forward. Historically born as an agreement of terms and conditions between former state railways, the document evolved to become a reference for the safe loading of goods on railway wagons in general. This was possible thanks to allowing any interested expert to participate in the working groups, independently from a UIC membership. The UIC Loading Guidelines are updated yearly (by 1 April), and the main task of the plenary meeting is to approve the amendment proposals submitted by the product groups.
Today, the LGG is subdivided into three product groups: “Wood and Paper”, “Iron and Steel”, “Combined Transport”. This subdivision is simply the result of the challenges of the past and does not mean that other goods are not taken into account. The LGG will tackle any question that may come up in the context of the development of new methods for securing loads in or on railway wagons and will create ad-hoc groups if appropriate.
Currently, the LGG unites technical experts not only from UIC members, but also from non-UIC railways, wagon keepers and loading consultants from all over Europe.
François Crelo emphasised in his opening speech that the continuous exchange of railway know-how is of utmost importance and that this know-how must remain in the sector, albeit to be shared with any concerned party. He was happy that new members brought in their expertise and ideas into the group and encouraged anyone who is interested in the development of new technologies of securing loads on railways to use the LGG as a forum for discussion with experts.
In the further course of the meeting a number of amendments for the 2020 version of the UIC Loading Guidelines were approved and proposed loading examples were discussed. The latter are no intrinsic part of the UIC Loading Guidelines, but proposed methods of how to secure specific types of loads. They are not of universal application but are subject to approval by each individual railway undertaking that finds them appropriate and can accept them in the framework of its safety management system.
The meeting closed on time after two-and-a-half days of fruitful discussions and decisions taken for the update and development of the Loading Guidelines. The participants and the UIC team thanked François Crelo for steering the LGG for so many years in a very professional way and for the active role he has taken in this group which allowed the UIC Loading Guidelines to become a well-established Code of Practice, downloadable free of charge from https://uic.org/freight/wagon-issues/loading-rules.