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Press Release AQUITAINE-EUSKADI LOGISTICS PLATFORM The PLAE attended the II International ETS Symposium on New Construction Technologies and Techniques in the Railway Sector The Aquitaine-Euskadi Logistics Platform (PLAE) attended the II International Symposium on New Construction Technologies and Techniques in the Railway Sector organised by Euskal Trenbide Sarea th th (ETS) from the 8 to the 10 of October at the Palacio Euskalduna Conference Centre of Bilbao. Nuria López de Guereñu, Counsellor for Transport and Public Works of the Basque Government and President of Euskal Trenbide Sarea, was in charge of opening the Symposium, informing participants that speakers at the event, whose main focus was innovation, included representatives of railway companies, UIC, university professors, consultants, railway operators and one from the European Union. She stated that one of the objectives of the European Union was the construction of a comprehensive railway network and the separation of the infrastructure manager and the railway operator, carried out on the basis of European directives. Then the prestigious professor Andrés López Pita gave the opening lecture, entitled New Horizons in Rail Freight Transport: Reality or Utopia, in which he spoke of the repercussions of the reduction in the role of railways in the transport sector, which has entailed a significant increase in the sector’s petrol consumption and CO2 emissions. He added that some factors that explain the limited participation of railways is the major development of road networks; the reduction of the rail network; and the limited quality of rail offer. In his words, "it seems that non- compliance with the transport deadline is the major reason why clients do not choose railways. If schedules were respected, railways would have a 20% market share. However, there are some difficulties in providing quality service. At an international level note should be made of the large variety of electrification and signalling systems and differences in track width. At an internal level, each rail network must face the traditional rules of priority of operation; the length of the siding tracks; the difficulties to access ports and the lack of capacity at terminals". Likewise, he pointed out "the current limitations in rail freight transport entail lack of competitiveness". In consequence, a series of actions have been taken to improve the position of railways in the freight transport market, such as raising speeds. The Professor declared that "it is more important not to stop than to develop very high maximum speeds; with top speeds of 100/120 km/h deadlines that are competitive with road transport can be achieved; and in order to circulate at speeds of 140/160 km/h you have to have technology which is not that interesting from an economic point of view. Another line of action should be geared at having lines reserved for freight traffic, which would entail a reduction in the times of transport, maximum flexibility and increased capacity". According to Andrés López, the rail freight sector has a series of handicaps such as: insufficient technical interoperability; different tariff systems for the use of infrastructures; and insufficient coordination in the management of international traffic. He concluded with the idea that the main objective is to have a more effective and balanced transport system that is respectful with the environment. Speakers at the Symposium also included Eckhard Kuhla, Director of Ekoconsult; Eugenio Muzio, President of the Board of Directors of UIRR; Gerard Dalton, Director for Infrastructures at UIC; Oliver Sellnick, Director of Railway Operators at UIC; Philippe Mangeard, President of Modalohr; Ted Krohn, KrohnConsult International; Vicente Luque Cabal, Deputy Director of the European Commission’s TransEuropean Transport Networks Unit; Eduardo Molina Soto, Deputy Director General for Plans and Projects of the Ministry of Development; Iñigo Palomino, Director General of Eusko Trenbideak; Mauricio Bussolo, Administrative Director of the Genova Port Authority; Denis Paillat, Director for Development of Veolia; Miquel Llevat, Director General of COMSA Transporte and Eduardo Molina Soto, Deputy Director General for Plans and Projects of the Ministry of Development. In his intervention Gerard Dalton highlighted that the future of rail freight transport was in the hands of a few shareholders and that it was not clear whether an agreement would be reached between the sector’s policy and business prospects that would ensure the overall growth of traffic. Nonetheless, he thought that rail freight traffic had significant potential to grow rapidly if a European law favouring railways was passed. Furthermore, he insisted that some changes were needed in order to enable the development of rail transport, including, amongst others, to have investments in infrastructures as a priority, to take into consideration environmental aspects and to reinforce social acceptance of railway in contrast with road transport. Vicente Luque Cabal stated that the European Commission felt it was necessary to improve the current situation and practices of rail freight transport by means of better coordination between infrastructure managers and member states. One of the key ideas he highlighted was to temporarily merge intermodality and logistics to facilitate the connection with ports. Miquel Llevat, as the representative of COMSA, stated that rail operators agreed that the real driving force of liberalisation are clients, who are demanding from the new generation railway companies comprehensive logistics services and a single interlocutor for their contracts. Lastly, Iñigo Palomino, after giving a brief presentation of Euskotrenbideak, spoke of the activities of Euskocargo and its prospects for the future. He insisted on the importance of projects to connect with the metric gauge railway network of the ports of Bermeo and Pasajes.
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