Global Rail Sustainability Taskforce gets to work

The Global Rail Sustainability Taskforce met for the second time last week, chaired by Patrice Couchard, Director of General Stations at SNCB/NMBS and moderated by Lucie Anderton, Head of the UIC Sustainability Unit. This new taskforce, with representation from Asia-Pacific, North America, the Middle East and Africa, has begun work to create a global vision for 2030, setting out the role of the railways in getting on track to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

François Davenne, UIC Director General, gave an opening speech highlighting the growing momentum of the taskforce and noted that the current period is an important one in co-creating a common narrative for rail as the backbone of mobility, including freight. At the upcoming COP26, “We have to make the case for rail ourselves”, he urged.

Philip Turner, Head of Sustainable Development at UITP, also took the floor and spoke about the process for event space application at the COP26 event, stressing the importance of playing a role as a sector. He explained the importance of organisations coming together with similar messages.

Very interesting presentations were then given by Balaji Bashyam, Digital Transformation in Travel, Transportation and Hospitality, Tata Consulting, who presented the digital megatrends driving change in mobility, and Marc Guigon, UIC Passenger Director and Coordinator of the UIC Covid-19 Taskforce, who spoke about the UIC study on the “new normal”. Mr Guigon presented an overview of mobility megatrends affected by the Covid-19 crisis, particularly in relation to high-speed infrastructure development, market liberalisation, sustainability and social concerns, public financing and evolution of mobility behaviour.

The taskforce then set to work to develop the new common vision of rail for 2030, focusing on four main themes:

  • Cities and land planning: the role of railways in transforming cities and planning of land use
  • Energy, technology and innovation: our part in the renewables revolution, phasing out diesel and zero-carbon stations
  • Intermodality and seamless connection: physical and digital connectivity with other modes for a door-to-door service and greater system resilience
  • Customer experience: cultural transformation of rail toward a more customer-focused service to meet the needs of freight and passengers

This new vision will be used for UIC’s targeted communications and events in the lead-up to and at COP26 in Glasgow in November this year. The next meeting of the Global Rail Sustainability Taskforce will be held on 9 September.

For further information, please contact Lucie Anderton, Head of Sustainable Development Unit, at anderton at

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