INTRO: At its Ninth Scientific Symposium, the Arab Union of Railways will examine how national railways can restructure for profitability

BYLINE: Eng Mourhaf Sabouni

General SecretaryArab Union of Railways

WITH privatisation now in vogue around the world, the members of the Arab Union of Railways are faced with a particular challenge. While keeping our railways mainly in the public sector in order to serve local needs, how can we restructure them along business lines to provide a better service at lower cost?

Since its first event in Sousse, Tunisia in 1983, UACF has organised scientific symposia every other year, to address important themes affecting railway construction and operations around the world.

Our 9th symposium, being hosted in Khartoum by Sudan Railways Corp, will have the theme ’How the railway may work as a private sector’. Hence my question: can the public sector meet the profit challenge? Delegates will consider how national railways can operate along business lines, examining the potential for productivity improvements as well as the benefits of partial privatisation.

In particular, the symposium will be looking at improving operating practices, the restructuring of UACF member railways and the role of the state as infrastructure owner and regulator. We shall also be looking at ways to modernise working practices and the lessons to be learnt from privatisation and restructuring in Europe and elsewhere.

Speakers will include representatives of public bodies responsible for planning, building and operating railways in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Morocco. UACF President and Sudan Railways Corp General Manager Eng Omer M M Nour will be outlining the future of our host railway, where privatisation is now under way following the implementation of a recovery programme (above). I should like to take this opportunity to thank Eng Nour and his colleagues at SRC for their help in organising the symposium. n

Contact details

Further information on the UACF’s Ninth Scientific Symposium, taking place at the Friendship Hall Conference Centre in Khartoum from September 28 to October 1, can be obtained from:

Arab Union of Railways (UACF)PO Box 6599, Aleppo, Syria

Tel: +963 21 266 56 11

Fax: +963 21 268 60 00