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Essential work to secure a long-term future

Posted: 29 December 2006 | | No comments yet

The Federation’s membership consists of national associations or, where they do not exist, national coordinators, representing the majority of specialist trackwork contractors in countries that are members of the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). National federations and coordinators from other countries may be admitted as associate members. Today we have twelve Members: Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Between them they represent some 130 contractor companies. National associations of trackwork contractors exist in a number of other EU countries also, and we intend that the Federation should continue to grow accordingly.

The Federation’s membership consists of national associations or, where they do not exist, national coordinators, representing the majority of specialist trackwork contractors in countries that are members of the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). National federations and coordinators from other countries may be admitted as associate members. Today we have twelve Members: Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Between them they represent some 130 contractor companies. National associations of trackwork contractors exist in a number of other EU countries also, and we intend that the Federation should continue to grow accordingly.

As President of the European Federation of Railway Contractors it gives me great pleasure to welcome this first issue of the Industry Focus. Its timing for 2007 coincides with the Federation’s tenth anniversary year since its foundation. The Federation’s membership consists of national associations or, where they do not exist, national coordinators, representing the majority of specialist trackwork contractors in countries that are members of the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). National federations and coordinators from other countries may be admitted as associate members. Today we have twelve Members: Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Between them they represent some 130 contractor companies. National associations of trackwork contractors exist in a number of other EU countries also, and we intend that the Federation should continue to grow accordingly.

The principal objective of the EFRTC is to promote the common interests of its members – the specialist European trackwork contractors. It does this by:

  • Promoting the liberalisation and harmonisation of the European market for track construction, renewal and maintenance, to be carried out by effective and competitive private sector contractors to the satisfaction of their customers
  • Making representations to the European Commission, European Rail Agency, governments and public bodies, railway infrastructure managers, railway operators, and their representative associations such as the EIM, CER and UIC

In pursuing these objectives the EFRTC works closely with UNIFE – the Association of European Railway Industries – of which it is an associate Member.

EFRTC has study groups working in a series of important areas. These include:

  • The optimisation of management, construction, renewal and maintenance of track infrastructure
  • The harmonisation of procurement procedures
  • Participating in drafting European Standards applicable to our specialisation, while complying with criteria for interoperability
  • Safety procedures for work on track

The work of the study groups has already yielded tangible results. Thus for example the EFRTC:

  • Is a Member of the EU-supported INNOTRACK research project, aimed at reducing the life-cycle cost of railway infrastructure
  • Participates in a common working group with the European Infrastructure Managers on the harmonisation of procurement procedures
  • Has promoted the preparation of CEN standards for ‘Qualification of trackwork contractors’, ‘Safety protection on the track during work’ and ‘Qualification of drivers of track construction and maintenance machines’.

The Federation membership meets at six-monthly intervals to review progress in these and other areas, and to hear from distinguished external speakers in a position to influence the sector, whether technically, commercially or in other ways. The most recent meeting took place in Rome last month, with internal discussion focussed on such matters as:

  • The inclusion in the EU-funded INNOTRACK project of elements of the RIMARE (Railway Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal Efficiency) workstream devised by the EFRTC and the European Infrastructure Managers
  • On the contribution being made by EFRTC member companies to the thinking of the European Rail Agency on the development of the Infrastructure Technical Specification for Interoperability.

Major external presentations were made by:

  • Mr. Michele Elia, CEO of Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI), the Italian infrastructure manager, and by Mr. Matteo Triglia, Maintenance Manager of RFI, on the future strategy of the company
  • Drewin Nieuwenhuis, General Manager of UNIFE, who gave an overview of EU railway (infrastructure) policy development
  • Luisa Prista of the European Commission, where she is Head of the Surface Transport Research Unit of DG Research. Her substantial presentation concentrated on the EU’s 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. An indicative breakdown of FP7 was shown including €4.2 million for transport out of a total of €50.5 billion EC budget for the next seven years. She urged EFRTC members to be actively involved in the future calls under FP7.

I hope this gives some idea of the importance and range of issues with which we are engaged; more information is available at www.efrtc.org. But a common theme to much of our work in all these areas, and one of the major keys to success, is a recognition that close collaboration and a shared vision between the railways and the EFRTC’s contractors is fundamental to driving waste out of the industry. That, in turn, is essential to a secure long-term future for both railways and their trackwork contractors. This is too important for either side to shelter behind traditional barriers; we very much welcome the increasing dialogue that is now taking place. We are looking forward to strengthening that dialogue further.

About the author

Jeremy Candfield is Director General of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), the organisation representing the UK railway supply industry. The Association’s 140 members include manufacturers, all the major track renewal companies, rolling stock maintenance companies, consultants, leasing companies, and providers of specialist services to the world’s railways.

Jeremy Candfield has led RIA since 1998, following more than 20 years in the Departments of the Environment and of Transport of the UK Government; as an executive director of Union Railways, the company building the high speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link; as Corporate Affairs Director of London and Continental Railways.

He has been a Member of the Board of the European Federation of Railway Trackwork Contractors since 2001 and in June 2003 became the Federation’s President.

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