*Railway PRO was among the event’s media partners, the only one representing the railway sector.
Transport connectivity for regional integration was the central debate topic of the 2019 Summit of the International Transport Forum that opened its gates on 22 May in Leipzig, Germany, ending today, 24 May.
More than 1,000 delegates from over 70 countries and around 40 ministers presented their opinions on various topics from vehicle connectivity standards to connectivity regional projects.
Known as the “Davos of Transport”, the Summit is organised by the International Transport Forum of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Korea holds the 2019 Presidency and chaired the ministerial session on 23 May.
Ministerial meetings were sustained by a comprehensive programme focused on political debates between ministers, business leaders, heads of international organisations and industry associations.
A total number of 80 events were carried out during the three days of the Summit.
The most important transport policy event in the world will end with a bike tour through the historic centre of Leipzig led by the mayor of the host city.
“Transport is connecting the world and we are connecting the people who make that happen”, said ITF Secretary General Young Tae Kim.
“The Leipzig Summit is all about global dialogue for better transport. We hope to set guidelines in the face of fast, profound, often disruptive change,” Kim said.
“To meet the challenge, listening to others, learning from their experiences, sharing one’s own successes and failures is of enormous value. Transport connectivity will improve by understanding how to harness digital connectivity, but also by connecting minds. That’s what we do at ITF and at the Summit.”
In a message addressed to delegates, UN Secretary General António Guterres underlined the role of “integrated part” of transport to human society.
“Transport connects people to jobs, schools and health care. It links global production chains and facilitates the delivery of vital goods and services,” Guterres wrote.
The UN Secretary-General also called on transport leaders “to address the health, environmental, social and economic impacts of the transport sector,” underlining that “the United Nations stands ready to work with all of you to promote sustainable mobility for all.”
Apart from the delegates of the 59 member countries of the International Transport Forum, there will be ministers or representatives of ministries from Columbia, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia and Turkmenistan attending the Summit.
The discussion agenda included interesting topics of major interest for transport policies not just from the EU, but from the whole world, a fact reflected in the participation of ministers of transport from non-EU member states. Elaine L. Chao, United States Secretary of Transport in Trump’s administration, attended the event on Wednesday, as well as Turkey’s Minister of Transport, Mehmet Cahit, or Chile’s Minister of Transport Gloria Hutt Hesse. European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc has also attended the event, as well as German Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer.
Discussions included topical subjects such as transport decarbonisation, mobility, social services, Asia-Europe cohesion projects etc. At the same time, German companies Siemens and Hessen Mobil presented the electric highway project, implemented, as an experiment, on 10 kilometres.
“Connectivity is the prerequisite for all Member States to take full advantage of the single market and here we have these famous nine transport corridors that will be completed at same standards, signalling etc. By 2030 which will give an additional boost to all European citizens. But in order to play an important global role, we need to be connected to all international markets”, declared Commissioner Violeta Bulc at the opening ceremony mentioning the transport cooperation projects with African countries and China. The Commissioner announced that EU co-finances a study dedicated to the development of a new rail connection to China, a project for which it will also be important the connection with all countries on this route.
In April 2019, European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc and Chinese delegates signed an agreement for the development of a joint study. The study aims to identify rail connections between the two parties and will propose the best alternatives to support the development of rail traffic and the elimination of the barriers that railways are facing in the transit of freight between the two continents.