Railways international summit at the seaside
The UIC Global Rail Freight Conference 2018 was held in Genoa
The 6th edition of the Global Rail Freight Conference (GRFC), organised by the worldwide railway organisation UIC, took place in Italy at the largest seaport city of Genoa.
The bi-annual event was made in partnership with Italian railway company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS) and under the patronage of Regione Liguria, with the support of a number of international organisations and associations including OTIF, CIT, BIC, ESC, IHHA, UIP, UIRR, UN Ro-Ro. BIC, Alstom and Ansaldo. From 26-28 June, a worldwide audience of some 200 delegates gathered to discuss ‘Modal Integration at the Service of Global Distribution’, the theme of this years’ edition.
“With this general title for the conference, we wanted to stress, again, that rail is or has to be part of the logistic offer, especially in a globalised world. Other modes of transport of course also have their pertinence but for an efficient and sustainable transport system, multimodality is key and rail is the backbone of that system”, Sandra Gehenot, Freight Director at UIC said. “Trade in goods is increasingly globalised. Cargo flows between Asia, Europe and the Middle East in particular have grown tremendously over the past years and now Africa is now attracting investments to develop rail freight corridors as well. Many countries are investing in the development of efficient transport solutions. Significant efforts are made by governments and regional organisations to develop sustainable solutions. This is at the heart of UIC’s work”.
The UIC Global Rail Freight conference, as known as ‘GRFC’, is one of the leading events in the world dedicated to rail freight and logistics and was previously held in Delhi (2007), Saint-Petersburg (2010), Tangier (2012), Vienna (2014) and Rotterdam (2016), the latter at the back of the 9th edition of the TEN-T days in the same city. “Our main aim is to provide a representative platform for the entire logistics chain. This is why we devote particular attention to welcoming speakers and delegates from around the world” Gehenot added.
This international conference is interesting for all those who work in logistics. Although the various editions have different focus points, the common thread to all editions is the need to further develop multimodality. In that respect, UIC endeavours to associate all transport modes. “Statistics show that attendees represent a fairly even split between railway undertakings, infrastructure providers, operators of various transport modes, manufacturers, logistics providers, shippers and policy makers.”
According to participants the GRFC forms “an excellent opportunity for networking, as the audience represents the entire profession and thus fosters a spirit of cooperation”.
Attendees have also said that the event offered high quality information and presentations, and a unique opportunity to exchange on trends and best practices from all over the world.
The global mix is also represented in the program with speakers representing all key stakeholders of the transportation industry. All sessions are made up of a mix of railway representatives, customers such as shippers and specialist operators, policy makers and parties from other modes of transport.
The conference closed with a somewhat different format called a ‘Freight Innovation Lab’ during which selected live demonstrations or of digital applications to rail freight were presented.
The official opening saw the participation of UIC Chairman Renato Mazzoncini, CEO of FS Italiane, UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Stefano Balleari, Deputy Mayor of Genoa in charge of Mobility and Public Transport, President of the Region Liguria Giovanni Toti as well as the European Commission. High-level representatives of the European Commission, the World Bank, OTIF, UNECE, Port of Genoa and Savona Authority, Mercitalia (FS Italiane), SUM4All of the World Bank, CCTT as well as many actors representing the railways, the logistics, the shippers and customers and the digital ecosystem took the floor during the various sessions and round tables.
The Third Industrial Revolution, the Digital Revolution, should make it possible for rail to increase its market share in the transport of freight. This was the key message of Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, CEO of the International Union of Railways (UIC).