Previous congresses

The 11th WCHSR

March 2023, Marrakech, Morocco

Organising this international UIC event in Morocco, and for the first time in Africa, was of extreme symbolic importance. For the future of transport, it is essential to ensure that rail and public transport become the backbone of mobility.
The various discussion held during the Congress have demonstrated that today, there is no limit to the extension of the high-speed network and to the extension of railways in middle-income countries.
One of the aspects to remember from this Congress is the word integration.

  • Integration between high-speed and conventional railways to accelerate modal shift,
  • Integration with other modes of transport to achieve multimodality,
  • Integration of new methods of financing.

This integration should be part of an approach that integrates other modes of transport as far as possible, including air, and notably by pursuing the work conducted jointly on ticketing.
It is becoming increasingly urgent to change the paradigm of mobility, should we wish to overcome all together the challenge of global warming.
The success of the congress summed up in a few figures:

  • 1,500 congress participants
  • 250 conference delegates
  • 48 countries
  • 25 CEOs and high-level executives
  • Ministers and high-ranking figures
  • 30 parallel sessions
  • 45% women
  • 30 sponsors and 50 exhibitors
  • 5 continents
  • 1 memorable gala dinner organised by ONCF
  • 4 days including an exclusive technical and cultural visit

A scientific programme worthy of the event
The Congress brought together here many meaningful contributions. It served to cover all aspects of high-speed: technical, economic, financial, commercial and environmental, thus enabling through various insights to respond to the slogan “High-Speed Rail: the right speed for our planet”.
This Congress is an additional milestone to the growing awareness that we have to continue working together.
The present state of knowledge shared over these three days must be followed up by strong commitments, in particular of a financial nature.
For rail transport to be totally inclusive and connected, it is necessary to have:

  • Continuity and coherence in political decisions that are taken,
  • Permanent aid from financial donors.

This Congress is a significant landmark, but we must continue to work together, particularly in view of the next United Nations Conference on Climate Change – COP28, which is to be held in Dubai at the end of the year.

The 10th WCHSR

May 2018, Ankara, Turkey

The UIC World Congress on High Speed-rail, organised by UIC and TCDD, Turkish State Railways, for its 10th edition in Ankara from 8 to 11 May 2018, brought together 1,000 participants from the rail and transport world, representing 30 countries. Over the course of three days, all the actors concerned by the development of the high-speed rail system held fruitful discussions on the theme ‘Sharing knowledge for Sustainable and Competitive Operations’.

During the opening session, UIC Chairman, Mr Renato Mazzoncini, particularly highlighted the sustainable dimension of high-speed,and noted: “The global high- speed rail network is one of the great feats of modern engineering, and it is rapidly expanding across continents worldwide. High-Speed Rail is currently in operation in more than 14 countries with a length of 42,000 Km. High-Speed not only boosted tourism, economic development and business but it also changed people’s lifestyles. The service and quality we delivered have been well recognised by users and rail passengers. Most of the countries allocated significant investments to High-Speed Rail. Money spent today in High-Speed is going to go a long way into the future. 16 countries currently have 14,000 km of High-Speed network under construction, while 36 countries have 35,000 km of planned lines. Ambitious projects for high-speed links are being developed in several countries. Now, new forms of transport are emerging, thanks to the technological revolution. In this context, everyone is waiting for the completion of the Maglev line between Tokyo and Osaka as well as what Hyperloop can bring.”

Three round tables were also organised on subjects such as “New Competition and cooperation: what is the impact on High-Speed Rail business?”, “How can High-Speed Rail (re)shape local and regional development?”, “Sustainability of High-Speed Rail system: experiences and perspectives”. During the first one, said: “Intermodality is the key word. New technologies should be more included into a door-to-door package”.

During this congress, 25 parallel sessions took also place and gave the floor to 115 speakers. Subjects addressed among others infrastructure planning, infrastructure earthworks, infrastructure bridges & viaducts, rail system signalling, station design & architecture & performance, train design and purchasing strategy, commercial competition & traffic forecasts, electric power supply, operation maintenance, socio-economy service quality, RAMS and cybersecurity, energy and environment, as well as Asset Management & LCC, maintenance renewal, standards & regulations, station construction & management & connections, or territory management.

During the closing session held on 10 May, a session was dedicated to universities and the crucial role that they can play in the railway dynamism. Professor Mr. NING Bin, Academic of China Engineering Academy and President of Beijing Jiaotong University (BJTU), presented the main objectives of the Universities Alliance network. Among them: the need to identify the specific research projects with common interest, or the need to establish several joint graduate-students education programs. He also made a call to Universities wishing to join this club. He said: “UIC is a driving force for sharing the railway knowledge”.

Another session was dedicated to the necessary link that railways have to develop with the start-up ecosystem if they want to remain open to the latest developments and innovations. Three start-ups presented their projects in front of the audience of the Congress, and the public voted for their favourite one. Three students from Turkish Universities also had the possibility to present their innovative projects in favour of high-speed rail.

During this Congress, the host country, co-organiser and UIC Member from the Middle East region TCDD (Turkish States Railways), had the pleasure to organise several technical visits in order to present to the participants the real vitality of Turkish railways, through the visit of several railway places, such as the visit of Ankara Railway Station, a visit of a rolling stock maintenance centre and a visit of the city of Konya, organised by taking the high-speed train from Ankara, and a ride in the driving cab at 250 km/h.

A trade exhibition was held to demonstrate the products, the solutions, the innovations offered by the industry. 51 exhibitors participated in the trade exhibition in several booths: China (CARS, CR, CRCC, CRDC, CREC, CRRC, CRSC), TCDD, Spain (Renfe, ADIF, CAF, Talgo), FS, Siemens, RTRI…

Finally, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux delivered a few concluding words: “Our UIC values, to open, to share and to connect have been very well respected here. A lot of information was exchanged, many messages were given, and a vision was shared. Rail is not just a mode of transportation but also a means of social and economic growth. And possibly a vector of peace in international links, in once again bridging continents with trains”.

The 9th WCHSR

July 2015, Tokyo, Japan

The 9th UIC World Congress on High-Speed Rail concluded on 10 July. With over 2,200 visitors in total over the three days, including 250 registered participants and an exhibition, the congress ended with highly positive feedback from the participants. The congress achieved the desired international impact, and even beyond, with Japanese TV and the participation of Japan’s Prime Minister.

With the motto of the congress being “Celebrate the past, Design the Future”, the conference was divided into two parts, respectively aiming to learn from experience and analyse the opportunities and challenges ahead, and each part ended with a round table.

The content of the conference was ambitious with the objective of covering several topics related to high speed during 35 parallel sessions: infrastructure, rolling stock, operations, management, distribution and marketing, economics and finance, railway governance, etc. A new concept was to dedicate a full session to the academic world in order to connect it to the training of future managers, experts and researchers.

Among the conclusions of the congress we must, among other things, remember that:

While the railways lost their important role at the end of last century, high -speed rail has unquestionably renewed its appeal and never have there been as many kilometers of new lines built worldwide; new countries have begun to join the “country-club of high speed”, such as Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the United States, and soon Malaysia and Singapore;

The ecological advantage of high-speed rail is certain and partly explains the revitalisation of the train; however, other modes of transport are also in progress and the benefit of rail transport cannot be maintained without further efforts and innovations to always do more and better;

If environmental constraints and the scarcity of natural resources have an impact on the global economy, railways will have to maintain their traffic by increasing their share in a market made less dynamic by attenuating growth;

Competitors (car and airplane) are changing the economic model and the trend introduced by the low-cost model is considered as irreversible; however, new forms of competition can also be seen as opportunities to resolve the issue of the first and last kilometers which generate handicaps for all public transport;

The digital revolution is a source of productivity and a way to decrease costs, but competitors do the same as well;

Innovation has become the main engine of growth; with the digital revolution, entirely new fields open to scientific and technological inter-disciplinarity.

UIC Director General Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux said in his concluding remarks: “The Shinkansen and later the TGV were conceived by our fathers, for us. And today we are designing a future for our children. And from one High Speed Congress to the other we can feel its evolution. This future will learn the lessons of our present and our past. But we can be proud of our legacy. We must also be demanding with our transmission. Even if we must always stay modest in front of tomorrow. I can see from this congress six evolutions for a future that will be more safe (hopefully), sustainable (necessarily), service-oriented (evidently), connected (digitally), interoperable (technically), intermodal (systematically). Now the show must go on and we must think of the next steps”.

The technical visit was offered on the last day to the participants of the congress thanks to a trip on the Shinkansen that embodies “punctuality, the politeness of kings”.

The goal of “zero congress paper – real-time” was achieved with the distribution of tablets to all attendees. Participants had everything in hand in a few clicks: the programme, corporate information from UIC and JR East, the two organisers, the opportunity to ask questions directly to the speakers or to vote on several issues, speaker presentations, etc.

The 8th WCHSR

July 2012, Philadelphia, USA

The 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail, jointly organised by UIC and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and in close partnership with all UIC North American members, started on July, 2012 in Philadelphia, USA, in the presence of US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, other prominent representatives of American authorities and the international rail community represented by over 1,000 participants.

Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General, expressed great satisfaction in holding this world conference for the first time on the North American continent, at a time when important political decisions are being taken towards the development of the first high speed rail services in the United States.

Ray LaHood presented the latest perspectives for the introduction of high-speed rail in America and insisted that today’s generation has to leave high speed rail as a legacy to the next generation, and said “The UIC Congress in the USA is a unique opportunity at a time when dreams can become reality for the next generations”.

Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General, said “UIC, as a kind of Federal Association around the world of rail operators and specialists, is happy and ready to support the American vision for high speed through the accumulated experience of all its members.”

The opening included a high-level panel of Ministers and Railway Presidents who described the achievements and perspectives for high-speed rail in their respective countries following a “World Tour of High-Speed”.

The programme followed by parallel sessions on all specific aspects of high-speed rail developments and operations. Two high-level round tables on 12 and 13 July were dedicated respectively to the question “How to deliver a high -speed rail project in today’s economic context?”, moderated by Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC, and “What part can high speed rail play in the future transport market?”, moderated by Michael P. Melaniphy, APTA.

During the course of the three days, participants will have the opportunity to become familiar with the products of over one hundred exhibitors at the UIC HIGHSPEED Exhibition as well as the rolling stock and equipment displayed by Amtrak and SEPTA at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.

The 7th WCHSR

December 2010, Beijing, China

On December 2010, UIC HIGHSPEED 2010, the 7th world congress on high-speed rail organised and hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Railways (MoR) and China Academy of Railway Sciences (CARS) together with UIC successfully fulfilled its targets.

The official opening ceremony took place on Tuesday 7 December in CNCC (China National Convention Center) in the presence of 2,700 participants from all over the world, including representatives from the government, international organisations, railways, the supply industry and research institutes.

The opening ceremony was attended by a remarkable number of high-level representatives including 20 Ministers and Vice Ministers, Ambassadors, 50 CEOs and Directors from railway companies across 26 countries. The speeches were delivered by eminent figures from various countries.

Mr Zhang Dejiang, Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China welcomed the active role of UIC in promoting high-speed railways across the globe and technology contributing to economic development, efficient use of energy, optimising use of materials, land-use, and overall contributing to greener transport. China has become a leading country in the field of high speed with 7,531 km of high-speed lines in operation and a further 10,000 km under construction.

Across the world, 14,400 km of lines are in operation and 10,000 are under construction. By the end of 2010, more than 1,750 high speed trains (HST) will be operated in 13 countries on 3 continents at commercial speeds ranging from 250 to 350 km/h. Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General reiterated the fact that 18 billion travellers have been using high speed rail since the 1960s, a figure which is set to more than triple by 2025.

Mr Grillo Pasquarelli from the European Commission underlined the role played by high-speed rail in bringing people closer together in every day life. The world high speed “revolution” makes it necessary to develop worldwide technical standards (with active contribution from UIC). He also mentioned the future outlook of bringing Europe and Asia closer together through rail.

The congress was organised around two major round tables and 8 blocks of 40 parallel sessions totalling 209 panellists on dedicated topics directly connected with high-speed rail development. All speakers acknowledged the far reaching impact of the UIC HIGHSPEED conference since its first edition in 1992, and more generally the role of UIC in facilitating railway development through worldwide exchange on technical matters, experience and enhancing cooperation between members on all main railway issues. They further highlighted the advantages of high speed for economic recovery, sustainable growth and social development and in securing public welfare. High speed rail is considered as a major part of the current trend in world railway development as a means to face current and future mobility challenges whilst ensuring a high level of performance, safety, environmental friendliness and cost effectiveness.

UIC HIGHSPEED 2010 has been organised alongside the 9th edition of the “Modern Railways” international exhibition that was officially opened on 6 December. 150 companies representing the world supply industry and railway companies showed more than 25,000 visitors the enormous business potential of high-speed rail.

UIC HIGHSPEED 2010 was the first edition held outside Europe, highlighting the fact that high speed is currently developing at an impressive pace around the world.

UIC HIGHSPEED 2010 has invited 12 students from various countries, and they were divided into two teams. Team I attended all plenary and parallel sessions and participates in the round tables for which they had to prepare a series of questions. They reported on each session and presented a final report at the closing session. Team II worked together with a professional a film director and cameraman to make a film with impressions of the conference and visits to the exhibition. This film shown at the closing session.

The Closing Session that took place on 9 December, was chaired by Jean-Pierre Loubinoux and with a special testimony of Mr Bai Chunli, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), one of the fathers of nanotechnology awarded by UNESCO for his work.

The 7th UIC HIGHSPEED conference has shown that:

  • High speed has become a recognised mode of transport at world level,
  • High speed has a great future because high speed means:
  • Safety – Sustainability – Capacity
  • Land planning – Economic Growth
  • Creation of jobs
  • Better complementarity with other transport modes,
  • High-speed is a very complex system needing the control of various phases: planning, construction, operation, maintenance and integration,
  • High-speed can best bring its added value as part of a transport master scheme including upgrading conventional rail networks in order to extend the benefits of high-speed rail to more regions and cities,
  • The excellent control of wheel and rail technology has not yet reached its limits in terms of speed, capacity, services and urban integration,
  • We are building a high-speed world system for the benefit of the next generation.

The future will thus bring more in the way of achievements and developments. These further steps will require efforts on the part of operations as well as investment in research and innovation.

The 6th WCHSR

March 2008, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Theme: High-speed: Fast Track to Sustainable Mobility

Attendees: 837

The 5th WCHSR

November 2005, Milano, Italy

Theme: High-speed railway’s leading asset for customers and society

Attendees: 1,350

The 4th WCHSR

October 2002, Madrid, Spain

Theme: High-speed rail: successes and challenges

Attendees: 1,200

The 3rd WCHSR

October 1998, Berlin, Germany

Theme: High-speed: Taking you into the Future

Attendees: 1,700

The 2nd WCHSR

October 1995, Lille, France

Theme: High-speed rail: Mobility on the right track

Attendees: 1,700

The 1st WCHSR

April 1992, Brussels, Belgium

Theme: High-speed rail: Realities and perspectives

Attendees: 1,200