Western Balkans Rail Innovation Workshop and TAIEX workshop on the 4th Railways Package

Tirana and Nis – During November, two important events focused on railway system improvement were organised: Western Balkans Rail Innovation Workshop on 8 November in Nis and the TAIEX workshop on the 4th Railways Package on 15-16 November in Tirana. The Western Balkans Rail Innovation Workshop was organised by the Transport Community Permanent Secretariat, Europe’s Rail Joint Undertakings (JU), and the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. The intention was to promote innovative solutions applicable to the railway system, to make rail more attractive, user-friendly, and competitive. The workshop consisted of two parts; the first was devoted to the Digital Automatic Coupling, and the second to SMART2 – Automatic detection of the obstacles on the rail. Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) is an innovative component that is key to enabling the needed increase in efficiency of rail freight for automatically coupling and decoupling the rolling stock in a freight train both physically and digitally. At the same time, the SMART 2 Innovation Project presented the project’s outcome, the results related to the advanced integrated obstacle detection system for intelligent automation of rail transport. This event gathered more than 70 participants from Universities, Public Institutions, Rail Companies and industries from the entire Western Balkan region as well as from EU Member states, which have discussed various issues with which the rail sector is being faced. The participants agreed on a common conclusion: in parallel with infrastructure construction, the region should also focus on an innovative solution and leapfrog from zero to the advanced phase.

The TAIEX workshop on 15-16 November in Tirana, was devoted to the 4th Railways Package. One of the primary tasks for all Regional Partners and the Transport Community Permanent Secretariat is the transposition and implementation of the EU Acquis. This is a regional challenge, in which Permanent Secretariat is working daily to facilitate this process in the whole region. As the 4th Rail Package consists of two main pillars – market and technical, we connect them with the TCT priority – the rail market opening. To fulfil all preconditions set in the Transport Community Treaty, all regional partners should recognise the rail documents issued by the other parties. That includes safety certificates, operating licenses, vehicle permits, and train driver’s licences. Meeting all requirements as set in the Transport Community Treaty will need more effort by all regional partners, and this workshop was one step forward in achieving the goals.  As the lack of human resources is evident, it is considered that this workshop conveyed new knowledge and a new perspective regarding the transposition of the 4th Railway Package into the rail legislation. In addition, all 48 participants improved their understanding and enriched their network of common professionals from the region and beyond.