Cooperation and best-practice exchange are important drivers for the promotion of passenger rail as the "green" and customer-friendly mode of transport for the future.

Passenger railway accounts for 50% of rail activity, 8% of global passenger transport and less than 2% of greenhouse gas emissions from passenger transport, and is believed to be the backbone of future mobility.

Reference to how the business is organised

UIC’s passenger activity is inspired by the involvement of its members in the Passenger Global Forum, led by Manel Villalante I Llauradó (Renfe).The forum is subdivided into five areas of activity:

  • Passenger Services Group
  • Intercity & High-Speed Commitee
  • Commuter & Regional Train Services
  • Passenger Railway Stations
  • Tourism opportunities

And a special group:

  • RIC/A

The forum also participates in cross-sectoral work and common activities with many different UIC fora and regions.

General context of the business activity

In parallel with promotion of competition in the rail sector, new technologies and new patterns of mobility and customer are beginning to emerge. By investing in innovation and research with the aim of offering personalised, barrier-free travel, railway undertakings are shifting the service paradigm towards a customer-centric approach.

In this context, the UIC Passenger department acts as a catalyst for transformation of the railway business. It supports railway undertakings in all aspects of passenger transport by providing technical solutions (IRSs) and facilitating knowledge exchange and networking platforms.

Key activities

Passenger Services Group (PSG)
One of the traditional activities of European railways, international ticket distribution allows customers to benefit from a “one-stop shop” service when purchasing tickets for international journeys. UIC provides standardised interfaces for distribution systems to enable ticket distribution by third parties.

The Passenger Services Group (PSG) aims to enable European distribution of railway tickets for UIC members in a cost-effective manner. It takes into account technological development and European regulations to provide common standards for all processes involved in railway distribution (timetables, fares, agreements on IT standards, etc.) In addition, the UIC Passenger Services Group is committed to providing services for persons with reduced mobility (PRM). This is becoming increasingly important in ageing societies and is a focus of particular attention both in European legislation and by railway undertakings. In a modern context, barrier-free travel is a key element of seamless mobility. Where technical conditions do not yet allow barrier-free access to all trains, appropriate assistance must be provided to bridge the gap.

Achievements to be highlighted

  • Commercialisation of the MERITS timetable database, MERITS (Multiple East-West Railways Integrated Timetable Storage) is a database, owned by UIC, containing the integrated timetable data of many European and some non-European countries (Russia, Turkey, Belarus), comprising a few hundred railway undertakings (RUs), which are published twice a week.
  • Development of e-ticketing standards
  • Launch of the Alliance of Universities for High-Speed Rail
  • 17 UIC members are now using the booking assistance tool for passengers with reduced mobility (PRM ABT) to ensure that support is provided for PRM when booking international rail journeys in Europe.

High-speed rail is undergoing rapid development worldwide. More than a purely technical subject, it encompasses a complex reality involving different technical aspects.

The Intercity & High-Speed Committee within the UIC Passenger department coordinates UIC members’ high-speed rail activities. It contributes to the development of high-speed rail systems around the world through standardisation, training, operational studies and reports, and promotes the business through its flagship World High-Speed Congress event. The Committee also works closely with international research bodies under the Alliance of Universities for High-Speed Rail, promoting research and innovation and attracting young talent to the field.

Commuter and Regional Train Services (CRTS)
Commuter and regional rail, comprising more than 80% of total railway passengers, serves as a backbone for local public transport. The Commuter and Regional Train Services (CRTS) working group is a platform for exchange between UIC members.

It works to develop and disseminate practical solutions and examines the interface between legal requirements and practical management issues. It shows members existing forms of financing between public authorities, private investors, client bodies and railway undertakings.

Passenger Railway Stations
As points of convergence and connection, railway stations meet passengers’ and citizens’ expectations. So UIC’s objective is to provide expertise to members, offering solutions tailored to specific locations and taking into account intermodality, commercial and social considerations, all within the context of sustainable development.

The Station Managers Global Group (SMGG) aims to advise on best practice for train stations, focusing on a broad range of issues such as governance, funding, digitalisation, intermodality, urban stations and regional development, etc. The group mostly aims to rethink stations of the future through the Long-Term Development for Railway Stations (LTDRS) framework. UIC organises UIC nextstation, conference on railway stations is held every two years as a platform for exchange of best practice.

Tourist trains
Tourist trains are attractive products with much to offer to the implementation of key concepts such as sustainable development, diversification and management of tourist flows. Tourist train projects are typically implemented in isolation, so there are opportunities to be developed in terms of networking and identifying synergies.

UIC’s TopRail (Tourism opportunities for Railways) project raises awareness of the potential offered by this market and contributes to the development of new and existing rail tourism products and services.

RIC/A, Regolamento Internazionale delle Carrozze/ dei treni Automotori
The RIC/A Special Group deals with the exchange and use of rolling stock in international passenger traffic based on cooperation between the signatories to the RIC Agreement (for passenger cars) or the RIA Agreement (for self-propelled units), namely successive Railway Undertakings and Keepers in the train route.
Since 1922, the RIC/A agreement has governed the exchange and use of coaches and self-propelled units in international traffic.
Both agreements describe the operation of the system and the responsibilities of the relevant stakeholders (RUs and keepers) and are continuously adapted to enable the reciprocal use of passenger cars or self-propelled units in international traffic.
The agreements need to keep in step with the ever-evolving railway environment. To ensure that they do so, RIC and RIA experts in working groups reporting to the RIC/A SG suggest amendments, which are put to a vote at the RIC or RIA General Assembly and are published as a new amended text of the agreements, which enter into force each January.

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Tuesday 13 October 2020