Innovations: The ITF/UIC
…the best advantages of each mode should be optimised to make them complementary…
Statement by Jean-Pierre Loubinoux
The International Union of Railways
Seamless transport is a very ambitious objective. It’s all about improving the way people and goods move and about making connections.
UIC, since its creation, has been developing a large number of projects based on the development of interoperability, which is part of the goal of seamless transportation by rail.
UIC and its Members continuously put their efforts into further developing technical, operational, commercial and legal interoperability. However, though interoperability within the rail mode is still one of UIC’s goals, today this is not only between neighbouring European countries but also between continents through the development of intercontinental corridors and with other modes of transportation to improve the complementarity of modes.
It is very important in our opinion to attract Ministers’ attention to the fact that in the 21st century money and space are scarce enough for the trends of full competition not to be continued between all modes. Instead, the best advantages of each mode should be optimised to make them complementary for the benefits of the end user and for the collective whole through optimising the financing of these respective developments.
As far as connections are concerned, UIC is working on three major pillars. First is the connection of systems through the use of new technologies and new practices as one of the main areas of progress.
In particular to make the best of the information technology which today can really be a new drive to push forward paperless transportation in a new worldwide business environment, as well as the improvement of not only technical interoperability but also commercial and administrative interoperability through use of IT, and in particular the ease of the customs environment.
Other modes such as aviation or maritime are far more advanced than rail in global interoperability, and this is certainly a factor of progress for seamless transportation by rail or between rail and other modes.
The second pillar is specifically the connection of modes in order to connect people and markets. In this respect, to accompany this search of complementarity between all modes, it is obvious that transportation today must be considered as a logistics chain from door to door, whether for freight transportation from the collection of goods through to the final delivery of the goods to the final customer, or of passenger transportation from the start to the end of the journey, which certainly encompasses several modes, starting with easy information and ticketing, urban transportation, intercity transportation, or connecting with aviation in airports for example, in a seamless continuity for citizens and goods.
In this respect, focus on key places such as logistics hubs in maritime or dry ports or railways stations, where all modes need to interface in the best articulated way to save time with regard to goods or customers, is certainly an area of multimodal progress.
As far as UIC is concerned, all the efforts currently made in this field aim at developing the stations of the future into multimodal hubs, allowing continuity between the city, the station and the mode of transport.
The third pillar is the connection of ideas. The railway sector is very committed to developing new sustainable transport solutions mostly in connection with other modes. The guidelines should be supported by public or government authorities.
It is a fact that there are significant funds available for research in the field of automobile transportation or aviation; however the funds made available by research institutes, governments or financial institutions are still very limited for the development of rail creativity.
And UIC thinks that there is a need here to help create a new concept fostering sustainable development, optimodality and smooth interfaces, and that technical and administrative interoperability should be key issues promoted during a forum on seamless transportation. UIC, for its part, is already trying to develop this, together with its community of members worldwide.