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Organisation for Co-Operation between Railways (OSJD)

XLIV session of OSJD Ministers Conference (MC)

Session XLIV of OSJD Ministerial Conference in the 60th Anniversary of the Organisation for Co-Operation between Railways

(press-release)

 CM 1

Baku, the capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan, hosted session XLIV of the OSJD Ministerial Conference in the period from 7 till 10 June 2016. The fact that the year 2016 commemorates the OSJD’s 60th Anniversary places a particular emphasis to its organisation and holding. That is why the session participants ear-marked the results and expressed congratulations on the occasion of this outstanding event in view of historical development and activities carried out at the present time.

The XLIV session of OSJD Ministerial Conference was attended by the ministers and plenipotentiary representatives from the ministries and bodies managing the railway transport of the OSJD members of the following countries:

Republic of Azerbaijan,

Republic of Belarus,

Republic of Bulgaria,

Hungary,

Socialist Republic of Vietnam,

Georgia,

Islamic Republic of Iran,

Republic of Kazakhstan,

People’s Republic of China,

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,

Republic of Latvia,

Republic of Lithuania,

Republic of Moldova,

Mongolia,

Republic of Poland,

Russian Federation,

Slovak Republic,

Republic of Tajikistan,

Turkmenistan,

Republic of Uzbekistan,

Ukraine,

Czech Republic and

Republic of Estonia.

The session was also attended by the representatives from OSJD Committee and invited guests from the international organisations – Directorate General for Mobility and Transport of the European Commission (DG MOVE), Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF), International Rail Transport Committee (CIT) and International Union of Railways (UIC).

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The session of OSJD Ministers Conference was chaired by the Chairman of CJSC “Azerbaijani Railways” Mr. Cavid Qurbanov, and the functions of the session’s Secretary were fulfilled by the Chairman of OSJD Committee Mr. Tadeusz Szozda.

Opening the plenary meeting on 9 June 2016 the session’s chairman Mr. Cavid Qurbanov congratulated all the participants on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of OSJD, pointing out that the foundation of the Azerbaijani railway was laid in the year 1878 along with the construction of the Baku – Surahan – Sabunchy railway line, which was completed in 1880. The length of the line was equal to only 20 kilometers. The development of the Azerbaijani railway was triggered by the need to deliver the Azerbaijani oil to the Russian and international markets. For the purpose of transporting the Azerbaijani oil to the Black Sea ports, the Baku – Tbilisi railway line was constructed and put into operation in 1883, the length of which amounted to 550 kilometers. In 1925 it was for the first time in the USSR that the electrification of the Baku – Sabunchi railway line had been commenced, and electric trains were put into operation in 1926 to run on the route of Apsheron – Sabunchy – Surahan.

Mr. Cavid Qurbanov continued further that the implementation of large-scale projects at the present time favourably affected the development of the railway sector, expediting its integration into the international transport system. Taking this into account, the railways of Azerbaijan are today at the new stage of their development, being the backbone of the country’s transport system. It has to be noted that all these achievements have been obtained by virtue of the daily assistance rendered to the railway’s activities by the Government of the country. The national leader Heydar Aliyev devoted much attention to the comprehensive and technological development of the Azerbaijani railway. In those years along with the main activities, a great number of technological innovations were introduced, which cover all the aspects of railway.

The strategy of social-economic development of the country, founded by the national leader Heydar Aliyev, and continued at the present time by Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan redounds to the purposeful growth of the development dynamics and to the mobilization of the society’s potential, by ensuring that the economy of the country is being strengthened. To this end, under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, a great variety of measures are under implementation with regard to the expedited and successful development and modernisation of the transport infrastructure. The participation of Azerbaijan in the implementation of international transportation in such major regional transport corridors as “East – West” and “North – South” testifies to it. The country’s leadership adopted important decisions and signed respective decrees in order to provide the development of railways as the main constituent part of the transport system of Azerbaijan.

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The Chairman of the session placed his special attention to the fact that President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed a Decree as of 6 July 2010 with regard to the adoption of the Government Programme for the development of the railway transport system in Azerbaijan for the years 2010-2014. This Decree was the landmark document in the history of railways development in Azerbaijan. The Programme reflected all the major aspects providing the sustainable development of the Railways of Azerbaijan.

The Programme included overall repairs of the 600-km section of the Baku – Boyuk-Kasik railway line, work on switchover of the energy supply system from DC to AC mode of operation, reconstruction of the interlocking and signalling system, and purchase of 50 new AC-operating freight locomotives.

For the purposes of developing the transit potential of the Azerbaijani railways and increasing the volumes of freight traffic on the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, a number of projects are being implemented today with regard to the construction and incorporation of the region’s railways. The construction of the Baku – Tbilisi – Kars railway line serves as one of the projects of priority in this respect. This railway is one of the major projects of the ХХI century, as a result of the completion of which not only three countries will be connected but also people of many countries will be liked. At present the work is completed on the Georgian side except for certain kinds of work relating to roadside development. The work on the Turkish side is successfully going on. The completion of work in the two countries is scheduled by the end of this year. When this railway line has been open, the goods of manufacturers and consumers of the region will be delivered to the addressees within the shorter time by most cost-effective tariff rates.

The construction of the Astara (Azerbaijan) – Astara (Iran) railway line of the “North – South” transport corridor is the second project of priority. In this respect, President of the country Ilham Aliyev signed a Decree as of 7 December 2015 with regard to acceleration of the construction work in the Azerbaijani section of the international transport corridor “North – South”. As of today in respect of this project, the design and estimate documentation for the bridge across the river Astara is completed. Work was commenced and is successfully going on with regard to the installation of piles under the bridge arms. Steps are also taken at a rapid pace in relation to preparation of the permanent way for the construction of the railway line.

For the purposes of further development of railway services in the region, a great variety of multilateral meetings have recently been held. During those meetings, various issues were discussed with regard to logistics, technical peculiarities and legal basis for co-operation. Meetings took place repeatedly between the railways of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Georgia as to the development of Trans-Caspian international transport route (TCITR). The demonstration run of test trains on this route has already been implemented from China with destination to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey as well as from Ukraine to China and backwards. Within the framework of a number of meetings held in Baku, Teheran and Moscow with representatives from the railways of the corresponding countries, multiple negotiations were organised on the issues of development of the route of International transport corridor “North-South” that serves as one of the prospective projects of priority for the Azerbaijani Railways.

Great attention, Mr. Cavid Qurbanov pointed out, is devoted to the mutually beneficial co-operation with all the railway administrations of the CIS countries and Baltic States as well as far-abroad countries, which constitutes one of the major aspects of the railway activities. A desire of the “Azerbaijani Railways” JSC to develop mutually beneficial co-operation with colleagues from the OSJD member countries has a positive impact on its activities. The Azerbaijani railwaymen believe that the high level of today’s relations between colleagues form the OSJD countries is, to a great extent, the achievement made by Heads of the railway administrations. Decisions taken at the sessions of OSJD Ministerial Conference and Conference of General Directors have always affected favourably the activities of railway transport of our countries and contributed much to closer co-operation and mutual confidence between our railways.

Structural changes that are underway, elimination of superfluous and back-up links of management, establishment of production amalgamations on the basis of eliminated services and departments will provide day-to-day management and higher efficiency and better quality.

Concluding his statement Mr. Cavid Qurbanov congratulated all the railwaymen of the OSJD member countries on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Organisation, whishing them all the best for the benefit of further railway transport development.

The Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Abid Qoca oğlu Şərivov congratulated the session participants on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of OSJD and pointed out to the remarkable achievements in the transport system development of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the eve of the OSJD’s 60th Anniversary. The major transport projects include as follows: building of a new international port equipped with ferry services, construction of a thousand of kilometers of new automobile roads connecting Azerbaijan with other countries as well as reconstruction and total renovation of the railway line connecting Azerbaijan with Georgia. The Government of Azerbaijan, he stressed further, places great emphasis on the development of the North-South corridor as well as to the construction of the new railway line Baku – Tbilisi – Kars the completion of which is scheduled for the end of this year. For the past five years, five international airports have been built and the aircraft fleet of the Azerbaijani airline company have been completely renovated.

All those facts, the Deputy Prime Minister pointed out in conclusion, testify to great attention devoted by the leadership of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the comprehensive and purposeful development of the country’s transport system.

In view of the 60th Anniversary of the OSJD, the key role of the Organisation was emphasized by the following participants in their statements: Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Maxim Sokolov, Minister of Railways of the DPRK Jang Hyok, Minister of Railway Transport of Turkmenistan Bayram Annameredov, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Construction of the Republic of Poland Piotr Stomma, First Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Evgeny Kravtsov, by the authorization of the Minister of Investment and Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan – representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the OSJD Committee Zubaida Aspayeva and other heads of delegations.

The agenda of the session included the consideration of the following issues:

- “Report on OSJD Activities for 2015”;

- “Report of OSJD Revision Commission for 2015”;

- “Results of work of the OSJD Commission on transport policy and development strategy for 2015”;

- “Results of work of the OSJD Commission on transport law for 2015”;

- “Progress of preparatory work for the International Conference to adopt the text of the draft Convention on Direct International Traffic by Rail”;

- “Information by the Chairman of OSJD Committee on the progress of work carried out by the UNECE Towards Unified Railway Law in the Pan-European region and on Euro-Asian transport corridors;

- “Progress of work carried out by the Ad Hoc Working Group on the preparation of recommendations on common approaches as to the vocational training/education of personnel/staff in the field of railway freight traffic”;

- “Programme of OSJD Activities for 2017 and the years to come”;

- “Payment of membership fees”;

- “Budget of OSJD Committee (Final - for 2016 and Provisional - for 2017)”.

- “Composition and order of sequence of the members of OSJD Revision Commission”;

- “Provisional agenda, venue and date for the XLV session of OSJD Ministerial Conference”.

Distinguishing the results of OSJD activities on the eve of its 60th Anniversary, the Chairman of OSJD Committee Tadeusz Szozda paid special attention to the significant contribution made by the Organisation to the development of railway transport, including piggyback and combined traffic between Europe and Asia and to higher competitiveness of railway transport.

During the past decade, Tadeusz Szozda continued, a huge amount of work was carried out, which made it possible to:

- perform a comprehensive revision of the SMGS Agreement in order to adapt it to the realities of today: the new redaction of the SMGS entered into force  on the 1st of July 2015;

- operationalise the OSJD/CIT joint project on the use of Common CIM/SMGS Consignment Note and considerably extend its scope of application, which made it possible to significantly facilitate border crossing for railway transport, thus reducing the time and costs for border crossing;

- carry out a huge amount of work on the development of a new Convention on international through railway traffic, which allows the inclusion of advanced aspects in railway legal interrelations and significantly raises the status of the OSJD as an inter-governmental organisation;

- complete a large-scale work on the improvement of OSJD railway corridors by virtue of monitoring, development of measures and comprehensive plans for their higher efficiency, identification and elimination of bottlenecks, elaboration of technical-operational certificates, signing of Memoranda for all the 13 OSJD corridors on co-operation in the field of their technical, operational and commercial development;

- to finalise the work in regard to the draft Convention on Facilitation of Border Crossing Procedures by Rail;

- to successfully accomplish a large-scale work on the reparation and implementation of Annex 9 “Facilitation of Border Crossing Procedures for International Railway Traffic” to the International Convention on Harmonisation of Frontier Controls of Goods of 1982”;

- to perform a huge amount of work aimed at organising 280 container block trains routes in the OSJD countries;

- to elaborate over 500 leaflets (standards of railway sector) in the field of infrastructure and rolling stock;

- to develop new systems of information interaction in international railway traffic and introduce paperless technologies;

- to carry out work in conjunction with the EU on interaction of the railway systems of 1520 mm and 1435 mm.

The Chairman of OSJD Committee also pointed out that the year 2015 had become a milestone in the history of the OSJD i.e. the process of the comprehensive revision of the OSJD fundamental documents including SMPS and SMGS Agreements was completed and draft Convention on Direct International Traffic by Rail was prepared that covered and incorporated the revised provisions of all the agreements, rules and other documents being in force within the framework of OSJD.

The OSJD Ministerial Conference has taken note of the execution of the OSJD Programme and Work Plans for the year 2015 and approved the following:

- “Report on OSJD Activities for 2015”;

- “Report of OSJD Revision Commission for 2015”,

- “OSJD Programme of Work for 2017 and the years to follow” in the field of transport policy and development strategy, transport law and general section,

- “Budget of OSJD Committee, final - for 2016 and provisional - for 2017)”.

The results of work for 2015 of the OSJD Commission on Transport Policy and Development Strategy and OSJD Commission on Transport Law were approved.

 Within the framework of consideration of the work results on transport policy and development strategy, the following decisions were adopted:

- to take note of the information on “Progress of implementation of Comprehensive plans for the improvement of transportation and development of OSJD railway transport corridors 9, 12 and 13 until the year 2020”;

- to approve the progress of implementation of measures on further development of railway infrastructure and on changing the volumes of freight traffic in some individual sections of the railway transport corridors;

- to report in 2017 to the OSJD Ministerial Conference on the “Progress of implementation of Comprehensive plans for the improvement of transportation and development of OSJD railway transport corridors 1, 2 and 3 until the year 2020;

- upon the signing of new Memoranda on OSJD railway transport corridors 10 and 12 by all the countries participating in these corridors, to regard the Memoranda on Co-Operation in the field of technical, operational and commercial development of OSJD railway transport corridors 10 and 12 dated 2013 as null and void.

The meeting took note of the information delivered by the countries participating in OSJD railway transport corridors 10 and 12 on their being prepared to sign the new Memoranda on these corridors within the framework of this session of the Ministerial Conference in view of the connection of new lines, having considered these Memoranda open for accession.

The OSJD member countries that have signed the Memoranda on Co-Operation in the field of technical, operational and commercial development of the OSJD railway transport corridors are invited:

- to continue work on the implementation of provisions of the Memoranda on Co-Operation in the field of technical, operational and commercial development of the OSJD railway transport corridors, including the prospects of interaction with Rail Freight Corridors of the European Union and Trans-Asian railways as well as activities in conjunction with the UNECE for the purposes of development and improvement of railway transport services between Asia and Europe;

- to promote the implementation of provisions of Annex 9 “Facilitation of Border Crossing Procedures in the International Railway Traffic” to the International Convention on Harmonisation of Frontier Controls of Goods of 1982”;

- to take note of the information on the activities carried out by the OSJD member countries concerned within the framework of the UNECE ITC on the development of draft Convention on facilitation of border crossing procedures for international transport of passengers, luggage and load-luggage by rail.

In the field of transport law, the decisions was taken:

- to continue activities aimed at the improvement of the SMPS and Service Instruction (SI) to SMPS, SMGS and Service Instruction (SI) to SMGS;

- the OSJD Commission on Transport Law was instructed to proceed in 2016 with the elaboration of proposals on a document that regulates the issues relating to service staff of railway locations participating in international passenger traffic;

- the Ad Hoc Working Group on the SMGS electronic documents was tasked to prepare in 2016 draft amendments and supplements to the SMGS and SI to SMGS regulating the application of electronic documents for transportation of goods in international freight traffic;

- the OSJD Commission on Transport Law was entrusted to organise until the end of 2016 a workshop on the issues of practical application of SMGS with effect from the 1st of July 2015;

- the Ad Hoc Working Group in the field of the Rules for the Transportation of Dangerous Goods in view of modifications and supplements made in the international and national regulations in relation to the carriage of dangerous goods should continue its work in 2016 on updating Annex 2 to SMGS;

- the Ad Hoc Working Group on the development of provisions for technical conditions for the stowage and fastening of goods was tasked to continue in 2016 the development of provisions for technical conditions for the stowage and fastening of goods in the wagons for 1520-mm track gauge as well as containers for their transportation on all the railways participating in SMGS;

- the OSJD Commission on Transport Law was entrusted to continue in 2016 its work aimed at the improvement of Annex 6 to SMGS “CIM/SMGS Consignment Note Manual (GLV CIM/SMGS)” within the framework of the project “Transport Law Harmonisation of CIM/SMGS” in order to promote further extension of CIM/SMGS consignment note application for the transportation on the railway network;

- to take note of the information on entry into force of modifications and supplements to the SMPS and SI to SMPS from 1 May 2016 as well as modifications and supplements to the SMGS and SI to SMGS from 1 July 2016.

Note was taken of the “Information by the Chairman of OSJD Committee on the progress of preparatory work for the International Conference to adopt the text of draft Convention on Direct International Traffic by Rail and the date was established for the first session of the Conference that is to be held from 14 till 18 November 2016 in the city of Warsaw (Republic of Poland). The session participants considered a number of issues relating to organisation and holding of the Conference, including the issue of establishment of the quorum, and they also approved the following provisional agenda for the Conference:

  1. Adoption of the agenda.
  2. Approval of Internal Regulation for the International Conference on adoption of the text of Convention on international through railway traffic.
  3. Election of officers (Chairman, Deputies Chairman, editing committee etc).
  4. Discussion of the main text of the Convention.
  5. Date and agenda of the next Conference.

Upon discussion of the issue of preparation of recommendations on common approaches to the vocational training/education of personnel/staff, the Ministerial Conference has decided:

- to approve the Report on the progress of work of the Ad Hoc Working Group (AWG) on preparation of recommendations on common approaches to the vocational training/education of personnel/staff in the field of railway freight traffic in the period of November 2015 – March 2016;

- to rename the AWG as the “Ad Hoc Working Group on the issues of vocational training/education in the field of railway freight traffic”;

- to make changes in the Internal Regulation of the AWG and approve it in accordance with the procedure stipulated in paragraph 2 of Article IV of the Rules of procedure of OSJD Committee;

and has tasked the AWG:

- to continue work on the elaboration of common approaches and methods in the field of vocational training/education to be organised by the OSJD for the application of OSJD documents:

- to draft proposals on the methods, organisational structure and programmes for training/education within the framework of the OSJD;

- to elaborate a development programme for personnel/staff, which:

- are based on the advanced practices of the world,

- are aimed at the development of practical skills,

- ensure the complete compatibility with international requirements and national legislation,

- provide higher level of knowledge and practical skills for the purpose of carrying out transportation of passengers and goods in the Eurasian area efficiently,

- shall be agreed and approved by the governing bodies of the OSJD,

- are updated on a regular basis in accordance with the existing agreements within the framework of the OSJD;

- to hold in 2017 the OSJD’s “round table” in the field of vocational training/education in the field of railway freight traffic with the participation of respective international organisations specilised herein.

The Ministerial Conference provisionally accepted the following issues to be included in the draft agenda for the XLV session of the OSJD Ministerial Conference:

  1. Report on OSJD activities for 2016.
  2. Report of the OSJD Revision Commission for 2016.
  3. Results of work of the OSJD Commission on transport policy and development strategy for 2016.
  4. Results of work of the OSJD Commission on transport law for 2016.
  5. Progress of holding of the International Conference on adoption of the text of Convention on international through railway traffic.
  6. Information by the Chairman of OSJD Committee on the progress of work carried out by the UNECE “Towards Unified Railway Law in the pan-European region and on Euro-Asian transport corridors”.
  7. Progress of work of the AWG on the issues of vocational training/education in the field of railway freight traffic.
  8. Programme of OSJD activities for 2018 and the years to come.
  9. Payment of membership fees.
  10. Budget of OSJD Committee (final budget for 2017, provisional budget for 2018).
  11. Provisional agenda, venue and date for the XLVI session of the OSJD Ministerial Conference.

It was decided to hold the XLV session in the Russian Federation from 6 till 9 June 2017 at the invitation of the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, which was expressed by the RF Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov in his statement.

 Within the framework of the plenary session of the Ministerial Conference, a solemn ceremony was held to grant the Golden Chariot” International Award. The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Chairman of CJSC “Azerbaijani Railways” Cavid Qurbanov and Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Maxim Sokolov have been awarded this prestigious international award for the development of international co-operation in the field of railway transport.

Upon closing the session, a signing ceremony for the Memoranda of railway transport corridors 10 and 12 took place attended by the representatives from the countries participating in these corridors.

It has to be noted that the host of the event - “Azerbaijani Railways” CJSC were prepared for holding the XLIV session of the Ministerial Conference at the highest level having been able to attach special jubilee significance to it on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Organisation.

Decisions taken in the course of the XLIV session of the Ministerial Conference are aimed at further development of railway transport of all OSJD member countries, its higher effectiveness and competitiveness and strengthening co-operation and mutual confidence between all railway administrations in favour of well-being and prosperity of all the countries.

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