On 8 June UIC hosted the 3rd InfraGuidER Workshop “Establishing the Benefits of Eco-Procurement Guidelines for Railway Infrastructure” at its Paris HQ. It was a productive meeting where infrastructure managers (IMs) and suppliers exchanged views on the preliminary framework conditions to make the integration of environmental requirements for procurement policies possible throughout Europe.
The main focus of the workshop was to obtain the IMs’ viewpoints on the proposed eco-procurement guidelines model and the selected case studies to test it. Bjorn Paulsson, UIC Senior Adviser from the Rail System Department opened the day’s meeting by stressing that the big challenge ahead for EU R&D projects is their actual implementation, which can only happen if high quality results are delivered so that the interest aroused during the project continues after its lifetime. Three guest speakers presented interesting examples of eco-procurement good practices. Sara Paulsson, Bombardier, explained how they have dealt with the environmental specifications for new rolling stock of the UIC leaflet 345 and made suggestions for a future equivalent UIC document for railway infrastructure. One inspiring business case was the “CO2 performance ladder” presented by Marjolijn Balkenende, Prorail. This initiative financially encourages railway infrastructure suppliers to provide sustainable products and to manage their businesses in a sustainable fashion. In this respect Erik Stoelinga from the supplier VolkerRail described how they have been awarded big contracts from ProRail due to their carbon footprint reduction achievements.
After the project overview introduction was given by Malin Kotake (Trafikverket), Raul Carlson (Eco2win) presented the InfraGuidER Eco-Procurement Guidelines document explaining the scope, principles and benefits of this new proposal for procurement procedures. Then, in line with the three main environmental impact areas identified (climate change, hazardous substances and natural resources), case studies on sleepers, rail grinding and electric/electronic track equipment were presented respectively by Andreas Oberhauser, Wiener Linien, Stefan Uppenberg (Botniabanan AB) and Nancy Leitao (BBRail). Paul Richards (NetworkRail) illustrated the main issues to be addressed during the following joint working groups. This final session dedicated to Evaluation and Strategy involved small group discussions to receive feedback on the project result implementation. The participants expressed a keen interest in the guideline proposal, considering it as a useful tool for drawing-up invitations to tender, evaluating different offers and awarding contracts. They regard it a valid input for implementing their company sustainable procurement policies. In particular they appreciated its capacity to bridge existing gaps between eco-procurement strategy goals and operative procedures, including clear measurement criteria and target values for eco-procurement requirements. Existing procurement practices, drivers beyond legislation compliance, implementing policy targets, a closer dialogue between IMs and suppliers in the product design phase and definitions needed for the measurability of environmental requirements were all commented upon and discussed.
In conclusion, this workshop confirmed InfraGuidER’s positive contribution in helping enhance the dialogue between IMs and suppliers, facilitating the understanding of the need on both sides integrating a ‘value for money’ approach and clearer harmonised environmental criteria for procurement. Moreover, the presence of members of the UIC body ERPC (European Railways Purchasing Conference) was an added value for know-how exchange between procurers and technical and environmental managers.
The InfraGuidER coordinated action now enters its final semester and continues its consensus building activity among the European IMs. The next and final event is the Final Conference on 24 November in Brussels where the presentation of Eco-Procurement guidelines will take place.