"New Dimensions in South East European Rail Freight Co-operation" was the motto of the Rail Freight Summit organized by Rail Cargo Hungaria on 30-31 March 2011 for rail freight professionals. The event ended with valuable results and experiences to the delegates of CFR Marfa, GySEV, HZ Cargo, RCA, RCH, RZD, SŽ, UZ, ZS and ZSSK Cargo. Participants reinforced their commitment to the co-operation of national railway companies, underlining the importance of infrastructural developments. The invited directors noted that regular meetings and continuing discussions will help safeguard the benefits of their personal relations.
Erik Regter a new member of the board of directors of Rail Cargo Austria AG as sponsor of the event addressed the executives of the largest railway companies of the region at the opening ceremony. He explained that forums such as the executive summit for rail freight professionals organized by Rail Cargo Hungaria provide an opportunity for market players to develop a harmonized approach to current issues. Lajos Szűcs, Head of Department at the Ministry of National Development welcomed the leaders of the railway companies present at the summit as an honorary/invited guest. In his speech, he touched upon the role of industry policy at hand, which is to allow the enhancement of co-operation within the sector.
The morning session of the summit opened with the presentation by Dr. László Mosóczi, Chairman of HUNGRAIL. He talked about the possibilities of international traffic expansion and the plans of the V0 section bypassing Budapest. He struck a timely chord with emphasizing the significance of the changing EU-corridors, since on the day of the Budapest meeting a decision was made at the Rail Freight Summit held in Rome to extend Corridor No.6 (Mediterranean-corridor) to Záhony - previously running until Budapest.
Imre Kovács, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Commercial Officer of Rail Cargo Hungaria looked back on the past year of the company. As a member of the market leader rail-logistics group of the region, RCH operates 18 engines and 3100 wagons with 500 wagon inspectors. Mr Kovács highlighted that although current regulative environment renders it more difficult for rail freight to gain ground, re-engineering business operation and developing regional co-operation makes it possible to enhance competitiveness. In this respect, client relations based on confidence, development of IT-services and interoperability deserves special attention.
Following a short overview of the current situation of their companies, the participating executives representing the dominant international players of the industry offered an insight to the current state of rail freight in their own countries. Karl Zöchmeister, COO of Rail Cargo Hungaria Zrt. outlined the state of RCA. Attendees could also familiarise with the strategies and activities of the Slovenian, Croatian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Slovak, Russian and Romanian rail freight sectors.
Speakers stressed the necessity for modernization and an increase in efficiency accompanied by the inevitable structural and operational changes in railway companies. As a result of these developments, the number of employees of the Romanian CFR Marfa halved from the original 20,000 taken over at the time of its foundation in 1998, and is expected to decrease further by 30 per cent this year. Slovak ZSSK Cargo is also forced to lay off thousands of its employees this year, and the Slovenian railway company faces similar decisions. At the same time, Slovenian SŽ launches a large-scale development project made necessary to retain its competitiveness in international traffic, which provides 90 per cent of its total volumes. Croatian HZ Cargo is investing in new logistic centres at present, and besides also partakes in the operation of a port. In an effort to re-engineer their business and operational processes, the company has started developing its IT-systems. Ukrainian UZ is ahead of full-scale restructuring, already supported by legislative proposals. These, when enacted, would result in the simplification of border checks, helping to increase transit traffic. Serbian ZS will restructure its divisions this year and is planning to buy new locomotives, which is important for the company because international traffic contributes 75 per cent to its total traffic.