Press releases

Joint UIP/VPI Keepers' Summit ‒ The climate needs more rail freight transport

Keepers' Summit

Joint UIP/VPI “Keepers’ Summit“ in Berlin:

The climate needs more rail freight transport

– the wagon keepers are delivering

How to shift more freight traffic to rail – and that Europe-wide? At the Political Symposium of this year’s Keepers’ Summit experts from the sector and politics discussed how to increase rail freight performance and achieve a higher share of modal split of the environmentally friendly transport mode rail. The International Union of Wagon Keepers UIP and its German member association VPI invited to Berlin in order to look for solutions to the various challenges of a European transport transition promoting climate-friendly rail freight. “The European wagon keepers are investing heavily in innovative, digital wagon fleets which are integrated into modern logistic chains” explained Dr Heiko Fischer, UIP President and CEO of the VTG AG, about the contribution of wagon keepers to a powerful rail system in his keynote speech.
250 visitors used this opportunity to hear first-hand about the political strategies to strengthen rail freight transport. „A clear shift in the modal split to the benefit of rail freight transport is realistic. In addition to the already planned infrastructure expansion, a prerequisite for this is an increase of infrastructure capacity through measures such as ECTS signalling technology and 740-metre freight trains. Equally important is a continuous improvement of the sectors’ competitiveness and innovative strength. The BMVI is actively pursuing this ambitious aim and places great importance on the implementation of the German Rail Freight Masterplan” highlighted Enak Ferlemann, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. From the point of view of the European Commission, Elisabeth Werner, Director Land Transport at the European Commission DG Mobility and Transport, underlined that “The 4RP will significantly foster rail freight transport by creating a system in which European Trains will run freely on European Infrastructure, based on a single set of rules and guided by automatic radio communication between trains and infrastructure.”
The subsequent panel discussion took up the matter and made clear that European solutions are especially essential for the cross-border rail freight transport. This holds true for both, the topic of noise abatement as well as for uniform technical standards in the area of digitalisation. Sector and politicians agreed that climate goal ambitions in the transport sector can only be fulfilled with competitive, economically strong rail freight. Moreover, the representatives of the sector pointed out the efforts of companies to foster efficiency through innovation and automation as well as the commitment of the European Commission to support them, by among others already deploying 70% of available CEF-funding to the benefit of rail transport. Against this background, the experts further encouraged policy makers to support these efforts on the national level with corresponding funding for research and most importantly for the migration of innovative solutions. Concretely, wagon keepers expect from the German government to equip the overdue federal programme “Zukunft Schienengüterverkehr” (future of rail freight transport) with the necessary budgetary resources. With regards to the EU, the speakers voiced the need to improve the currently insufficient coordination of national master plans and to develop a consistent European strategy for rail freight transport.
Prior to the Keepers’ Summit, the annual UIP General Assembly took place. The members of UIP elected Johann Feindert, CEO of GATX Rail Europe, as one of two vice-presidents of UIP together with Per-Anders Benthin, CEO of TRANSWAGGON, and replacing Johannes Mansbart. In addition, UIP’s members and its president, Dr Heiko Fischer, were happy to welcome Markus Vaerst, COO of the WASCOSA AG, as a new board member of UIP, thereby replacing Dan Distefano, president of NACCO.
After the Keepers’ Summit, the participants gathered to summerly temperatures for the already firmly established “Get Together” in the Berliner Wasserwerk.
On the following day, the 27th of June, UIP and VPI jointly hosted the 20th International Technical Information Day during which 11 speakers presented the developments on a diverse range of topics, ranging from the changes brought by the 4th Railway Package, over digitalisation and data exchange to the interaction of wheels and composite brake blocks.


CER/ERFA/FEPORT/UIP/UIRR press release: Council abandoning European Combined Transport

The Council negotiating position (general approach) regarding the amendment of the Combined Transport Directive, adopted on Monday 3 December, would put in danger the currently existing harmonized common market for Combined Transport (CT).
Few weeks after the Graz Declaration of 7 November, which promotes a “Green Deal for Europe”, one week after the European Commission announced its proposal to turn Europe climate neutral by 2050 and right at the beginning of the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, the Council position effectively disintegrates the European regulatory framework of Combined Transport.

The Combined Transport Directive has always been an instrumental enabler of CT operations. The Directive in its current form may be imperfect, but it describes uniform rules for CT within the EU Common Market. As 85% of CT trains cross at least one internal border of the EU, it is exceptionally important that the same rules apply on both sides of all internal borders within the European Union. The proposed changes to the CT Directive, if implemented, would undermine existing logistics chains.

Furthermore, shippers, logistics service providers, CT operators, terminal managers, railway undertakings and wagon keepers have extensively invested into Combined Transport solutions. The return on these investments would be highly in danger with such a legislation.

CER, ERFA, FEPORT, UIP and UIRR therefore express their deep concerns on how CT will remain competitive in a marketplace where homogeneous EU-wide rules are replaced by Member State choices while being burdened by extensive new enforcement obligations. The associations issuing this statement call on the Romanian Presidency to ensure wins for Combined Transport in the impending trialogue process and to align more closely with the ambition of the  European Parliament position.

Joint Rail sector press release: Rail - Europe's climate solution

Last week, the Graz Declaration promoting a ‘green deal’ for Europe was adopted under the Austrian Presidency at the Informal Meeting of Transport and Environment Ministers. The rail sector associations CER, EIM, ERFA, UIP, UIRR and UNIFE jointly welcome the new political initiative pushing for environment friendly transportation in Europe. Rail has a central role to play in providing environment and climate-friendly transport and helping Europe meet its sustainability challenges, and remains the best solution for promoting safe, clean and green mobility.
The Austrian Presidency’s Graz Declaration, supported by EU Transport and Environment Ministers, signals a new political commitment to promoting a Green Deal for Europe. The Ministers agreed to develop actions that complete the TEN-T rail core network, increase the efficiency and attractiveness of rail transport by removing all the barriers to interoperability, and strengthening the digitalization and automation in the sector. As the greenest and safest mode of land transport, rail provides a significant contribution to the EU economy and to the completion of the Single Market. At a time when transport remains a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, the European rail associations reaffirm their strong support for the EU priorities and objectives of greening transport, and their willingness to work towards increasing the efficiency of the rail system for the benefit of all EU citizens.
The European rail sector is committed to delivering a modern rail system that responds to customer needs, providing both quality and cost-effective rail services. Under pressure from fast-paced technological developments and environmental efforts in the other transport modes, the rail sector is determined to maintain rail transport at the forefront of the green agenda and to continuously build on our strong safety record.
Support is needed at all levels – local, regional, national and European, in order to maximise rail’s full potential to the benefit of citizens, society and the economy. The success of the EU low emission policy, getting more goods off road and onto rail, depends on strategic investments in rail and multi-modal infrastructure, a level playing field for all modes of transport, the removal of national barriers to the Single European Railway Area and efforts to enhance rail’s performance, by promoting digitalisation and use of standardised data and interfaces to address cost and quality issues.
CER, EIM, ERFA, UIP, UIRR and UNIFE share the view that the Graz Declaration can mark the beginning of a new era of clean, safe and affordable mobility for the benefit of Europe’s citizens, the environment, and society at large, and reiterate the importance of keeping rail at the heart of national and EU policies for a decarbonized and clean transportation of the future. The rail sector stands ready to intensify its collaborative efforts in acting as a backbone of a sustainable mobility in Europe.