The creation of a new COTIF appendix on the safe operation of trains is intended to open the way to the expansion of interoperability beyond Europe (Photo: DB).

INTERNATIONAL: Three strategic decisions were taken at the 13th General Assembly of the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail which was held at the end of September. These covered:

  • the creation of a new appendix on the safe operation of trains, intended to open the way to the expansion of interoperability beyond Europe;
  • modification of the Uniform Rules concerning the Contract of Use of Infrastructure (CUI UR), to make it possible to develop simple, shared rules concerning the allocation of international train paths;
  • modification of Article 34 of COTIF to harmonise the deadlines for the entry into force of modifications to the Convention, reflecting the constant need to adapt.

In order to deal with the increased activity the decisions will entail, the General Assembly has set up an ad hoc committee on co-operation that will help involve member states in operational contact groups. The first of these groups is to look at the carriage of packages by rail between China and Europe, and is expected involve a number of partners in addition to OTIF and the Universal Postal Union.

In order to optimise the running of the OTIF, the General Assembly supported setting up a working group of legal experts to deal with the challenges of adapting regulations to digitalisation of logistics chains.

Head of OTIF’s Technical Interoperability Department Bas Leermakers is to act as Interim Secretary General from January 1, when current Secretary General François Davenne is due to leave to join UIC as Deputy Director General ahead of taking over the role of Director General on July 1. OTIF is to hold an extraordinary session on February 27 to elect a new Secretary General.