UIC hosted the second of four InfraGuidER Workshops “Opportunities and barriers for Eco-Procurement Guidelines in Railways” at its Paris HQs on January 26th.
The EU project InfraGuidER aims at providing “Guidelines for the Environmental Specification of Railways Infrastructure”. This includes green procurement as well as better defining the research activities necessary to enhance the environmental performance and sustainability planning for Infrastructure Managers.
The general intention of the InfraGuidER workshops has been firstly, to ensure the dissemination of the mid-term InfraGuidER results to the railways community, secondly, to get feedback from the infrastructure managers (IMs) about methods and requirements being developed. Thirdly, to assess the collected valuable inputs.
The main focus of the 2nd workshop, chaired by the project coordinator Marina Fracchia (University of Genoa) and supported by Paolo Contestabile on the UIC side, was to receive IMs points of view on the prioritised aspects on which the partners of this Coordinated Action have been working on.
The workshop was opened by Henning Schwarz, Coordinator Sustainable Development. He welcomed the participants and briefly underlined “Procurement is the strategic step where IMs mark their environmental footprint for the next decades”. Future scarcity of energy, natural resources and raw materials as well as related higher costs, will demand clearer knowledge on the environmental footprint of rail infrastructure assets to balance Life Cycle Cost efficiency and Environmental impacts (use of energy and raw materials, emissions, waste, etc). InfraGuidER should indicate IMs suggestions to tackle the challenges of environment at the Procurement stage and thus deliver a solid basis for infrastructure related aspects in the “UIC Environment & Sustainability Strategy 2030 and beyond”.
35 participants, attended the workshop with its joint parallel sessions in order to be informed and discuss on the project intermediary results. The general project introduction was carried out by Kate Barton, Network Rail. Panel 1 continued with the “Status of the Eco-Procurement guidelines” presented by Malin Kotake, Banverket and Raul Carlson, Eco2win, then “Exploring potentials and opportunities of Environmental Management Systems” by Joe Silmon, University of Birmingham. Panel 2 presented “Effective handling of relevant information for environmental evaluation” by Ulrich Kral, Vienna University of Technology, “Achievable benefits for IMs” by Andreas Oberhauser, Wiener Linien, and “Enhancing the eco-procurement of materials & services” by Stefan Uppenberg, Botniabanan AB.
Besides direct questions related to the presentation and their technical contents, UIC members were asked to discuss issues and possible solutions. IMs gave suggestions on opportunities and sustainable business cases as well as on how to overcome barriers.
The InfraGuidER consortium were asked to put a stronger focus on business cases and to formulate environmental performance indicators (EPIs) bearing in mind interoperability and marginal added costs for network managers. In addition, increased engagement from suppliers’ R&D, standardisation bodies and public authorities were also pondered.
IMs have been asked to review the intermediary project results, and especially concerning the EPIs and IMs priorities for the environmental management.
The InfraGuidER workshops have been so far a good platform to find a common understanding of environmental aspects and solutions connected to railways infrastructure
The next Infraguider workshop organised by UIC is scheduled on the 8th June 2010 at UIC HQs where the Protocol of Interest about description of material related environmental aspects with associated EPIs will be presented. The final workshop is planned for the 30th November 2010, introducing the Environmental Guidelines with preliminary specifications for the railways infrastructure. Please note these free of charge workshop dates in your agenda.