A joint ESCAP-OSJD Virtual Meeting of Experts on Challenges & Opportunities for International Railway Transport along the TAR Network and beyond was held on July 7 ,“ 8, 2020 to discuss the post-COVID-19 situation and measures required to prevent the negative impacts of the disease on the railway transportation. The event brought together 120 participants from different countries of Asia and Europe as well as some regional and international organizations including representatives of the International Union of Railways (UIC), International Railway Committee (CIT), and International Coordinating Council on Trans-Asian Transportation (CCTT).
The meeting mulled over the scenario of regional and global railway networks, pursuing the objective of sharing the relevant experiences amongst Euro-Asian countries to cope with the post-COVID-19 crisis and identifying needed actions to further enhance the sustainability of railway freight transport on the Trans-Asian Railway (TAR).
During the opening session of the meeting, His Excellency Dr. Hadi Soleimanpur, Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization delivered his keynote statement, sharing the ECO’s responsive activities to counter the adverse effects of the ongoing pandemic on transit transport in the ECO countries. While mentioning the “ECO Guidelines” circulated amongst the Member States in this regard, he underlined that the organization’s core concern in the period of such crisis was, inter alia, to address region’s fundamental requirements including, smooth passage of transportation carrying essentially required food and medical items through the border crossing points.
The ECO Secretary General also emphasized on the need for a continued cooperation between the ECO and ESCAP whilst “building back for better international railway connectivity” in the aftermath of the Coronavirus, proposing the ESCAP’s to contribute to the developing and jointly implementing some bankable projects on ECO’s railway network. He further sought the ESCAP’s assistance to help transform ECO’s existing transit transport corridors into sustainable economic passages in the interest and benefit of the regional community.
Among other keynote speakers, there were Deputy Executive Secretary ESCAP, Mr. Kaveh Zahedi, Organization for Cooperation between Railways (OSJD) Committee Chairman Mr. Tadeuz Shozda, and International Union of Railway (UIC) Director General Mr. François Davenne. They underscored the need for an accelerated and boosted volume of cooperation at national levels as well as at the level of international organizations to make a collaborative, coordinative and largely engaged effective response to preclude any affects of pandemic on the railway networks.
Other participants of the meeting also highlighted their taken actions and the planning thereon to counter the repercussions of the disease.