Meeting via web-conference for the first time, amongst the topics that the assembled delegates considered was a detailed debate, led by the regional chair Francisco Cardoso dos Reis (IP, Portugal), on the impact on railway operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the added complexity of remote meetings, in a very fruitful and often frank exchange, the outcome was a list of ideas that will help colleagues to embrace the ‘new normal’.
With a focus on five core pillars:
- New ways to work within companies and at international level
- Train services
- Research, the meeting also filled in some of the gaps. This outcome will be shared with the Covid-19 Task Force that UIC has been running since early March.
The EMC warmly welcomed the latest addition to the College, deputy chair Gorm Frimmanslund (BaneNor), joining the College as the chair of the EIM. This now means that the College 2020 – 2021 is complete.
EMC also approved the topics on which the region will focus for the rest of this year and into the next, including the necessary links between the EU Green Deal and the operational railway, the development of version 3 of the Railway Technical Strategy Europe (2021) and the development of the framework for the successor to the current Shift2Rail.
The meeting was updated on the evolution of the so-called Shift 2Rail 2 and the paper “Transforming Europe’s Railway System” that has been prepared to reflect, to a large extent, the business needs of the railways and the anticipated engagement of the railway operating community right at the heart of the new framework.
The meeting learned of the rollout of the first phase of the ‘standardisation shared workspace’ and supported the proposal to establish a Europe-specific task force that will lead coordination of the work needed to prepare for, engage in and communicate results from meetings with CEN_CENELEC (SFR/JPCR), the ERA (Topical working Group on Standardisation) & the EC (RaSCoP). Working with the other core associations of CER and EIM, this will enable a coordinated approach, avoid duplication and maximise available resources.
The same day, and equally as virtually, the RAE gathered together very many of the region’s 123 member companies.
The RAE completely supported the feedback about the COVID discussion at EMC in the morning and endorsed the fact that a collaborative approach to easing the sector’s way out of the lockdown and back to a semblance of normality, brings with it not only a sense of community but enables the maximisation of resources and efficiency.
The regional accounts for 2019, having been audited and found to be accurate, were agreed thus enabling the books to be closed for last year.
The regional focus for 2020 and 2021 was endorsed (see image) and support given for the Work Programme of projects to be started in 2021.
The strong working links with the ERA and the emerging relationship with Shift2Rail were also highlighted.
The meeting was presented with a detailed overview of how the freight business is being transformed by the Rail Freight Forward coalition (RFF) and the special alignment with the EU Green Deal through its green paper that sets out the ambitious target of reaching 30% more freight traffic on Europe’s railway network by 2030.
Professor Andy Doherty, Chief Techncial Officer (Network Rail, UK) and co-chair of the Rail System Forum, presented a very interesting overview that they have developing the UK for an ETCS system with limited supervision. Their research has shown that it is quicker to install and that costs are significantly lower. The meeting agreed that this was an innovative piece of work and one that is worth further exploration.
The region welcomed 4 new member companies these being : Srbija Kargo; ZPCG (passenger operator in Montenegro); Norske tog (ROSCO in Norway); Rail Baltica (the new ‘UIC gauge railway being constructed to link the Baltic States with the wider European railway community.