Information published on 21 October 2014 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 420.

UNESCAP meeting for cooperation on the facilitation of railway transport

  • Asia Pacific
  • Freight

UIC participated in the UNESCAP meeting for cooperation on the facilitation of railway transport from 13 – 15 October, in Bangkok.

Delegates, signatories of the intergovernmental agreement on Trans Asian Railway (TAR network), drafted between member states from Southeast, Northeast, Central, Asia, South Caucasus, West Asia and South Asia, met for a three-day workshop.

Despite the region’s continued rise in containerised trade, most railway operators failed to capitalise on the increase in international trade in all but a marginal way.
There are endemic reasons why railway operators are often not geared to quick response in identifying new opportunities and defining related intermodal services. Externally, international railway transport remains difficult in the region between Asia and Europe due to numerous non physical barriers at border crossings, which cause excessive delays, high costs and uncertainties in the entire transport process.

The common key challenges were identified:

  • Congestion and delays at border stations
  • Lengthy procedures and inspections on both sides for border crossing
  • Lack of harmonisation in the documents required by different countries
  • Different technical standards for rolling stock, power supply, braking and signalling systems
  • Different operating rules, requirements for drivers and crew
  • Lack of cross border information, data transmission systems (sometimes incompatible) and qualified manpower

Four fundamental issues in facilitation of international railway transport were identified:

  1. Standardisation of rail infrastructure and rolling stock
    UIC’s role with members and rail operators within 18 of the 28 TAR member countries was underlined. Participation in UIC activities may assist member countries to move towards a standardisation cluster, dedicated to specific business cases.
  2. Break of gauge
    The main railway line in the TAR network incorporates five different track gauges i.e. 1,676- 1,520- 1,435-1,067-1,000 mm
  3. Different legal regimes for rail transport contracts, SMGS and COTIF
  4. Coordination of regulatory controls and railway inspections at border interchange stations.

The participants agreed on key issues to further develop international rail transport

  1. Participate in international railway organisations
    Among the 28 member countries, 13 are OSJD members, six are OTIF members and three countries have dual membership
  2. Formulate sub regional and bilateral agreements
  3. Collaborate to standardise cross border railway operations
    Member countries can gain much by being involved in activities of international operation insofar as UIC was identified as a key player, in particular in developing standards on various aspects of railway operations.
  4. Use advanced passenger and cargo information systems
  5. Arrangement for exchange of wagons
  6. New technologies in train operations as well in container tracking
  7. Develop human resources for cross border rail operation
    UIC has stated developing Asian Network of Rail Training Centres (ANRTC)
  8. Establish logistics centres, dry ports, maintenance hubs at border interchange stations along the freight corridors
  9. Simplify rail intermodal interface with maritime, air, road transport
  10. Promote and encourage corridor approach to facilitate international railway transport
  11. Work towards paperless rail freight transport

Bernard Schmitt emphasised the joint effort made to develop paperless freight transport with major European railway undertakings. He reported on the prospects of this CIT UIC project regarding the CIM SMGS common consignment note.

For further information please contact Bernard Schmitt: schmitt@uic.org