INTRO: IRCA Secretary-General Antoine Martens briefed Murray Hughes on the aims of the XXVIIth IRCA-UIC Congress in Marrakech

INTRO: XXVIIth IRCA-UIC Congress, Marrakech, October 6-10

WHEN THE world’s most senior railway executives gather in the Moroccan city of Marrakech this month they bear a heavy responsibility. Railways everywhere are undergoing the most far-reaching structural changes in their history as governments press them to stop spending taxpayers’ money. The Marrakech event presents the opportunity to set an agenda for the next five to ten years that could lead to the railways gaining the independence they crave and put them on course to make a real financial return.

Not for nothing has the International Railway Congress Association picked the theme ’The Rail Mode: from Economic Necessity to Financial Return. Although the IRCA is bound by statute not to take a particular stance - partly because it counts 27 governments among its members, it is conscious of the need to steer strategic thinking towards what only a few years ago would have been inconceivable. It is a non-profit organisation, and other members include 97 railways and 14 organisations such as the Association of American Railroads and the Association of Latin American Railroads. There are also 10 associate members from the industrial sector.

Three sub-themes for the congress are intended to persuade delegates to tackle specific strategic subjects: