Leaders of the European Rail industry gathered today in Bucharest, Romania on the occasion of the 2015 European Rail Industry Association (UNIFE) General Assembly.
UNIFE members selected Bucharest for their General Assembly this year to demonstrate their hope that Romania and other countries in the region will absorb available EU structural funds to invest in their rail systems and also to draw attention to the enormous potential of the Romanian rail market.
The General Assembly programme included presentations and commentary from industry CEOs and high-level speakers from the EU and Romanian government, including Members of European Parliament, Claudia Țapardel and Iuliu Winkler, senior officials from the Romanian Ministry of Transport, European Commission, ERTMS Coordinator Karel Vinck and Executive Director of the European Railway Agency, Josef Doppelbauer and a high-level official from the European Investment Bank. After a keynote speech delivered by Romanian Secretary of State for Transport, Iulian Matache, and a video address from EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Crețu, attendees listened to a presentation on the Romanian rail system from the Romanian Infrastructure Manager, CFR Infrastructure, and high-level roundtables on EU investment for rail, EU Rail Industry Competitiveness and Market Leadership, EU Transport Policy, and on developments in ERTMS.
The UNIFE General Assembly was held the day after an informal agreement was reached on the Fourth Railway Package’s Technical Pillar; a major success for the rail industry that will bring massive savings in authorisation costs. Also joining the General Assembly after participation in the trialogues, Olivier Onidi, Director of the European Mobility Network in the European Commission’s DG-MOVE, reported on the impact the Fourth Railway Package’s Technical Pillar will have on European Railways and the industry, stating, “UNIFE and the rail industry have been on our side at the genesis and throughout the discussion about the Technical Pillar of the Fourth Railway Package, and after yesterday’s agreement there will now be a true European landscape for railways.”
As a large Member State in Southeastern Europe, Romania and its rail system play a crucial role in the completion of the Single European Railway Area, especially with the two TEN-T Corridors passing through the country (Orient/East Med and Rhine/Danube corridors). Moreover, the European Rail Industry is heavily invested in the area, with the rail manufacturing industry employing around 50.000 individuals and the broader sector (including operators and infrastructure managers) employing at least 110.000.
UNIFE Chairman and President of Bombardier Transportation, Lutz Bertling, commented on the dynamic landscape of the current global rail market, stating: “This is a watershed moment for the rail sector. Now more than ever, we are all players on a global marketplace facing increasing competition, which is of course a threat, but also an invaluable opportunity—let us not forget that certain megatrends such as increasing urbanisation, congestion and environmental concerns are driving the global demand for rail solutions.”
In a video message, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu remarked, “For the 2014-2020 period, while it’s too soon to make a final estimation considering that some of the Operational Programmes have not yet been adopted, nevertheless we expect that EU funds available for transport to be similar to the €82 billion made available during the previous period (2007-2013). However, there are new changes in Cohesion Policy funding and we will focus more on intelligent and ecological solutions that encourage multimodal systems, alternative fuel, and less on investment in basic infrastructures such as road. For railways, we hope that the share via CEF and the Cohesion Fund will be larger compared to the previous period.”
Philippe Citroën, UNIFE Director General remarked, “UNIFE was pleased to host its members in Bucharest to highlight the opportunities and challenges for the rail system in the southeastern part of the EU and at the broader European level. We were especially privileged to have so many high level stakeholders from the European institutions and Romanian authorities attend and address our membership on the multitude of topics where our industry is involved.”
The UNIFE members have selected Amsterdam as the location for the 2016 General Assembly which will take place on 23 June, 2016.
Unife and its 23 staff represent the interests of 80 leading large and medium-sized companies in the rail sector. A further 1,000 suppliers of railway equipment partake in Unife’s activities through 17 national rail industry associations. Unife members have an 80% market share in Europe and supply almost 50% of the worldwide production of rail equipment and services.
All segments of the rail supply industry are represented in the Unife membership: system integrators, railway infrastructure supply companies, rolling stock as well as subsystem and signalling suppliers join under the umbrella of Unife to collaborate on common challenges and issues facing the rail supply industry. Our members are committed to providing the best technology to meet the challenges of growing transport volumes and the demand for sustainable and environmentally friendly transport.
Unife works on interoperability standards and coordinates EU funded research projects that drive towards the technical harmonisation of railway systems. To this end, Unife is one of the supporting bodies of the European Railway Agency. Furthermore, Unife has established itself as a trusted partner of the European Institutions in all matters related to rail and transport.
Mission & Objectives
Unife’s purpose is to represent its members’ interests at international and EU level. The mission of the association is to proactively foster an environment where its members can provide competitive railway systems for the growing demand for rail transport.