At its recent 25th meeting, the Regional Assembly Europe took stock of the developments of 2017 and considered the broad selection of topics that the railway operating community in Europe should be tackling in 2018 and beyond.
Having sound leadership is important to drive forward an ambitious programme and part of the action taken at the meeting was to endorse the construction of the European Management Committee (EMC) for 2018 and 2019.
The EMC is the College of CEO and senior-level European members tasked with steering the work of the region for a two-year term. The College has members from all of Europe’s areas including, for the first time, LDz from Lithuania. With colleagues from north, south, east and west of the region, the EMC is able to dynamically enable a range of European activities under a geographically-comprehensive structure.
This meeting was also the last for Mr Bernard Guillelmon – Chairman BLS and Chair Europe – who successfully wrapped up his successful two-year term with a final speech that highlighted the ever-deeper cooperation between the members in the UIC framework and a call for continued optimisation of the work in a multimodal arena. He passed the baton to Mr Francisco Cardoso dos Reis – Director, International Affairs and Senior Advisor to the Board of Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP).
Following endorsement of his appointment at the subsequent General Assembly, Mr Cardoso dos Reis’s first action as regional chair was to present the region’s achievements in 2017 through some facts and figures around a clear and structured strategy and vision that are continuously evolving.
Innovating for the future
The UIC is the lead organisation for research activities amongst the railway operating community (ROC) and 2017 was an important year. The ROC had developed and published a set of priorities to help shape its vision for the railway system of tomorrow. Known as the “Capabilities” the 12 areas identified are designed to influence not only the current railway innovation programme but also to help populate the content of a second Shift2Rail JU that is anticipated within the EU’s Framework Programme 9 from 2021.
The ‘capabilities’ have been instrumental in the joint creation, with other rail stakeholders within the European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC), of the ‘Rail 2050 Vision’. The document sets out the future capabilities needed from the railway sector and in particular the railway companies to meet the future mobility needs of Europe.
It provides a route to utilising the new technologies to achieve these capabilities and also advocates for greater public support for railway research and innovation in order to deliver a future railway system that is attractive to the customer.
A quality approach
During 2017, the region acted as the testing platform for the introduction of UIC’s Quality Management System. This was very successful and led to UIC receiving certification against ISO quality standards from the AFNOR certification body.
Standardisation a core focus
Standardisation is an important element in the development of rail transportation and one of the key missions of UIC. Following a recent review, an optimisation of the current structure has been put in place which will lead to much improved processes and an acceleration of the production of IRSs for the greater benefit of not only all UIC members in Europe and around the world but equally for the wider railway community.
Working with our partners
The continued smooth work with other stakeholder organisations in the region (amongst whom CER, EIM and UNIFE) continues to develop. This focusses principally on technical issues which are important for the sector vis-à-vis the agenda of the political institutions, highlighting the necessity of these synergies to deliver a supportive regulatory environment for the railway community.
A number of key areas need to be developed in 2018, not least amongst which, ensuring that the sector is properly resourced in order to deliver the significant innovation agenda. Opportunities exist with the Shift2Rail programme that is driving a major research and innovation programme and with whom the projects portfolio at UIC can work in synergy.
There is a need more than ever to harness all our efforts and to build the common basis needed to maximise developmental opportunities. The core topics of research, innovation and standardisation in a digital world are the ones that the European region is planning to focus on.