UIC Director General François Davenne took part in the launch session of IRS Rail Webinars on Tuesday 2 June.
The webinar, which was entitled Post-Covid: What will be the new normal for rail travel?, took the pulse of the sector amid the current crisis and anticipated what rail travel would look like in the short, medium, and long term.
Besides Mr Davenne, the webinar included high-level interventions from Elisabeth Werner, the European Commission’s Director of Land Transport, Wolfgang Küpper, Secretary General of the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF), and Céline Fornaro, Managing Director, Head of European Industrials Equity Research, UBS. The session was moderated by Carlo Borghini, Executive Director of Shift2Rail.
Key questions debated by assembled speakers and an international audience included “how quickly will passengers return to rail, and in what numbers?” and “how long will the recovery take?”
Mr Davenne was optimistic about the future, stating that one year from now full rail activity should have more or less resumed, echoing the result of the audience poll carried out during the webinar, in which the largest number of the audience members agreed with this view. He emphasised how close collaboration across the transport family, including with UITP and IATA through the UIC’s Covid-19 Task Force, can spread best practice and keep mobility chains open. Looking into the long-term, Mr Davenne said that unified digitalised networks should come to define a new transport paradigm.
The importance of global collaboration was shared by Wolfgang Küpper, who declared that OTIF stand ready to help set up international legal framework for emergencies.
Elisabeth Werner emphasised the need to kick-start the European Green Deal and bring sustainable transport back to the top of the agenda.
Céline Fornaro posed the dilemma of the post-Covid traveller: “by air or by train?” Ms Fornaro detailed the findings of a recent UBS report into the potential impacts of coronavirus on how people will choose to travel.
The IRS Rail webinar series builds on the network, knowledge, and trust built over nine International Railway Summit events. Just as with the summit. The IRS Rail Webinars are designed to help the railway sector stay informed and stay connected.
The webinar Post-Covid: What will be the new normal for rail travel? is also available on demand for free from 3 June at https://www.irits.org/irswebinars/post-covid-what-will-be-the-new-normal-for-rail-travel/.
The next session of IRS Rail Webinar will be on the EU’s Covid-19 relief measures for the rail sector taking place on 9 June 2020. Speakers will include Keir Fitch from the European Commission, Josef Doppelbauer from the EU Agency for Railways (ERA), Kurt Bauer from the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and Nicolas Castres Saint-Martin from Alstom, and the discussion will be moderated by CER’s Libor Lochman. Registration is open at https://www.irits.org/irswebinars/eus-covid-19-relief-measures-for-the-rail-sector/.