UIC supported the 8th International Railway Conference organised by IRHA (International Railway History Association) in Budapest from 28 November – 1 December 2018.
This conference followed the 7th Railway History Conference organised in November 2016 in Istanbul in close cooperation with Turkish State Railways (TCDD).
The theme of the 2018 conference was Railways in the First World War to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of World War I. Other supporting organisations were the French Railways (SNCF), the “Mission du Centenaire 1914-1918” (France), the Hungarian Scientific Association for Transportation (KTE).
UIC is co-founder and supporting organisation of the International Railway History Association (IRHA), with other supporters being the Fundacion de Ferrocarriles Espanoles (Spanish Railway Foundation – FFE), “Rails et Histoire” (a railway history association) as well as the universities of Alicante (Spain), Modena (Italy) and Frankfurt-am-Main (Germany).
The 8th Railway History Conference was opened on 28 November with welcome addresses delivered by HE Mrs Pascale Andréani, French Ambassador to Hungary, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of UIC, Henry Jacolin, former French Ambassador, Chairman of the IRHA Association, and Dr Katona Andras, Honorary Secretary-General of the Hungarian Scientific Association for Transportation (KTE). A keynote speech was delivered by Prof. Andrea Giuntini, Associate Professor of Economy at the University of Modena.
As Jean-Pierre Loubinoux recalled in his opening speech: "The origins of the International Union of Railways (UIC) come back to the period immediately following the First World War, with diplomatic conferences in 1921 and 1922 and the constitution of UIC as a permanent organisation in 1922.... Taking into account the essential role of railways to support the reconstruction in Europe and neighbouring regions, the main objectives were to achieve technical harmonisation and facilitate cross-border operations.... UIC was founded with the remit to take over, in a more coherent manner, the various competences of a number of international railway conferences or agreements that existed prior to the Great War. So UIC became the tool for international cooperation of railways with the initial task of “harmonising conditions for construction and operations of railways for international traffic.”
Following a presentation of UIC’s current activities and priorities at the service of railways, the UIC Director General concluded: "UIC and its members are continuously trying to build bridges, and not walls, between cities, countries and continents. UIC probably helps social and economic growth internationally, but also helps to establish peace links and today in this conference as well as in this world this is certainly a worthy symbol...."
12 panels in plenary or parallel sessions were held during the three days of this conference in Budapest. They provided an opportunity for a great diversity of presentations and lively debates among participants.
Technical visits were organised to the National Railway Museum (Rail Park Budapest) and the Budapest Underground Railway Museum.
The proceedings of the 8th International Railway History Conference will be published in a book to be edited.