The General Assembly started with a keynote speech delivered by Mr Yuwei Li, Director of the Sustainable Transport Division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). UIC and UNECE have been linked by a Memorandum of Understanding since 2010.
Mr Li: “UIC is the worldwide professional association representing the railway sector and promoting rail transport. As recently approved by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC), UNECE is a United Nations centre providing a comprehensive platform for the consideration of all aspects of inland transport development and cooperation including railways, with special attention to interregional and intraregional regulatory governance through United Nations transport conventions and other means. The two organisations join hands to promote railway connectivity, in the context of the sustainable and inclusive integrated intermodal transport systems within countries, across countries and across regions. The railway sector should take the leadership in promoting the railway-based integrated intermodal systems for the prosperity of railways in the next 100 years, together with other modes of transport, to connect railways to key seaports and airports and make railway stations hubs for road transport.”
Report from the UIC Chair
Mr Krzysztof Mamiński said: “This year marks the 100th anniversary of our organisation. On this occasion, I thank our UIC members and employees for their hard and effective work for the development of UIC. For years, the aim of UIC has been to strive to strengthen international railway cooperation. We base our actions on three values: unity, solidarity and universality. These are timeless values which have proved particularly relevant in recent times.”
He then presented several priorities for the association, UIC needs to:
Be an accountable and credible organisation for members;
Focus on the most important/strategic issues for the rail sector, such as the global promotion of rail as an effective tool for decarbonising transport and making it the main backbone of mass public sustainable transport systems in the world within 10 years. This is essential in the face of global challenges and climate and environmental change;
Develop interregional projects in order to increase the involvement and cooperation of all regions in achieving the common global objectives of railway development and modal shift in global transport;
Harmonise and enhance synergies of development and innovation activities within the EU RAIL Partnership with projects initiated by UIC members;
Enhance the attractiveness of UIC as a global technical organisation among its members by initiating effective actions for development and innovation in the railway sector; and
Be guided by certain values and principles.
He assured members that he and Director General François Davenne will stand together to uphold these values and principles. In these times, the values of unity, solidarity and universality are crucial for UIC: “We must as a sector remain united and in solidarity”.
He also presented future directions for the second half of 2022, after having recalled the five strategic axes followed by UIC:
Promoting rail transport worldwide;
Further development of UIC as a technical platform to respond to members’ needs;
Developing innovation through projects;
Promoting sustainable zero-emission transport;
Efficient and transparent governance for the benefit of UIC members.
Over the past three years, UIC has been taking care to adapt to this changing world and to strengthen the position and competitiveness of the rail sector. Now in 2022, UIC is focusing on three main themes below, which will be elaborated out in the UIC Work Programme 2023-2025:
Desirable modal shift/decarbonisation by 2030 (this objective is reflected in the UIC Vision 2030 “Design a better future”);
Innovation (UIC participation in research and innovation projects);
Continuous improvement of rail services (this objective is reflected in the UIC Manifesto).
These three axes will serve as guidelines for the UIC in 2022, and they will be complemented by a series of actions, publications and events during this centenary year.
UIC Manifesto – Existing and future solutions for rail to serve the planet and people
Another important achievement of UIC is the work on the UIC Manifesto – Existing and future solutions for rail to serve the planet and people. This document, which will be published in July, presents the development of concrete solutions taking into account the significant role of the railways and the need to:
transform cities and connect communities;
use clean energy, technology and innovation;
promote intermodality and seamless connections; and
transform the customer experience.
The development of these solutions will be included in the upcoming UIC Work Programme 2023-25, which aims to map out clear directions of work for UIC for the next three years.
These three documents, the UIC Work Programme, Vision 2030 and the UIC Manifesto, form the basis on which the UIC will conduct strategic actions for the railways over the next 5, 10 and 15 years.
UIC Director General’s report on the organisation’s activities
UIC Director General François Davenne underlined that UIC does its best to be there for its members. He also mentioned that UIC was planning to preserve activities in order to be sure that UIC continues its regional activity outside Europe.
UIC is fostering more intense collaboration with international financial institutions, such as the Asian Development Bank;
UIC is currently working closely with the African Union to develop concrete implementation projects, a rail programme in Africa and a consistent vision. François Davenne also announced that a Digital Conference will be held in Tunis in October.
UIC intends to develop activity in North and South America to attract new members in those areas.
He then mentioned that the UIC 2020-2022 Work Programme had been evaluated for the first time through the UIC Activity Report 2020-2021: https://uic.org/IMG/pdf/uic_activity_report_2020-2021.pdf
He also highlighted the recognition of UIC’s added values, as evidence by:
A framework agreement signed with the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) in December 2021 for more articulated cooperation for structured activity in the region;
UIC’s involvement in crucial tasks of the System Pillar and Innovation Pillar of Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking (ER JU): system architecture, 5G, operational rules, cross cutting activities, etc.;
UIC delivering value with the OSDM (Open Sales & Distribution Model) data model. The aviation system AMADEUS now fully supports OSDM;
Rail Freight Forward (RFF) continuing its efforts on DP Rail.
He finally announced the UIC World Congress on High-Speed Rail to be held for the first time in Africa, in Marrakech, from 7-9 March 2023, and organised with the Moroccan Railways (ONCF): https://uichighspeed.org/
Global activities were presented to members. These included:
Study on how to boost passenger preference for rail
Further to the White Paper on the “Resumption of business post Covid-19 pandemic, recommendations for the railway sector” (focus on passenger activities) and as a result of the continued work on the New Normal, restoring the confidence of passengers in railways has emerged as a priority. This work was launched in October 2021 with the support of the consultancy firm, McKinsey. The main findings from the research, building upon what rail operators have already achieved post-pandemic, offer guidelines on how rail operators can boost modal share and make the industry more sustainable in the long term.
Draft COP27 and multi-year strategy for global advocacy as a sustainable mobility and climate solution
This strategy for global advocacy as a sustainable mobility and climate solution, which was prepared by the Global Rail Sustainability Taskforce, was supported by UIC members.