Today, on the occasion of the 87th UIC General Assembly, Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux and the chairman of the UIC IRRB (International Rail Research Board) presented the members with a new strategic document which is meant to support the Rail Operating Community to develop their its system and services into the preferred way of transport for the future, into the ‘backbone’ of the transport system and the global economy.
Rail is a vital service to global society and the transport backbone of a sustainable economy.
It has an unprecedented opportunity to achieve the sustainability which is required for the 21st century. By doing so, rail will be able to respond to the expected growth in transport demand, both for passenger and freight.
The UIC International Railway Research Board (IRRB) has prepared the UIC Global Vision for Railway Development (GVRD) structured around the core themes set out in the strategic documents of the UIC Regions (e. g. Challenge 2050, Rail Technical Strategy Europe (RTSE), Asia-Pacific Regional Strategy and the strategy paper of the African Region, Destination 2040), as well as other relevant documents such as the Strategic Rail Research and Innovation Agenda (SRRIA) published by ERRAC, the European Rail Research Advisory Council.
The GVRD is meant to support and enable railways worldwide to develop and optimise the rail system of the future in order to exploit its opportunities and to satisfy customer and societal requirements.
To meet the numerous challenges of the future (demographic development, climate change, etc.) the global rail sector must increasingly rely on its innovative potentials so as to deliver smart solutions as regards safety, security, punctuality, availability, accessibility, seamless operation, capacity, connectivity, sustainability and other performances.
The greatest challenge, however, is to meet all the aims mentioned above and to remain economically affordable for everybody – and not only in countries with high per capita income.
In this strategy process which requires continuous improvement, fine-tuning and adaptation of such a strategy, UIC plays a crucial role as driver, disseminator, knowledge manager as well as a platform for discussion and exchange of experience and best practice.
UIC takes a holistic approach, keeping in view the effects of each measure considered on the railway system as a whole, preparing the different possible ways to achieve the future “Digital railway”.
As a global organisation, UIC sees the global dimension of railways, which, in order to be more efficient, requires a convergence of existing technical systems and solutions.
In order to achieve economies of scale and seamlessness of operation, UIC continuously facilitates the reduction of distance between national and regional specificities of the rail system as small as possible and – where such specificities are unavoidable – to optimise their inclusion into a globally coherent and interoperable system also thanks to International Railway Standards (IRS).
In September 2015, the Members of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development comprising 17 new global goals for the next 15 years.
In this context, the Global Vision for Railway Development is considered to paint the picture of the target for the conditions of rail transport for the coming decades. Taking the strategic nature of the present document into account, specific performance targets or time benchmarks have not been set but merely rail transport conditions for different railway areas of activity.
At the same time, the future railway has been defined through the prism of the “Forever Open Railway” concept, thus acting in an effective and responsible way in the common system of sustainable, safe and secure, high-performance, connected, interoperable, competitive and attractive rail transport.
This document is therefore conceived as a living document to be reviewed periodically in consultation with UIC working bodies and Regional Assemblies.
Mr Boris Lapidus mentioned that he was pleased to note that practically from its birth to the present time, rail transport has been developing in three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, social, and economic.
The UN goals are based on these dimensions. To prevent coming to a halt in further rail development we need new breakthrough solutions that can and must be planned on the basis of the Global Vision presented.
The present document is meant to be of support to the railway operating community as well as organisations and companies in the railway business, manufacturers and developers of technology for the railway system as a benchmark to define their strategic documents, long-term projects and competitive policies.
It should also be mentioned that anyone interested in research, development and innovation in the railway system should regularly consult the UIC Research Portal – www.railway-research.org – for the latest about railway innovation, a global data base on rail research projects and results, information on railway research institutes and soon to be added the WORC – World Class Research Capacity Plan - database, containing information on excellent researchers, their field of expertise and capacity of their railway research institutes. This WORC has been under development by the IRRB and will probably be linked by the end of March 2016.
NB: UIC members and readers of eNews are very welcome to contribute their latest rail research & innovation related news, project results and other relevant data! This will be very much appreciated by the rail operating community!