Wednesday 6 December 2023

Market Place Seminar 2023 held in Istanbul from 20 to 21 November

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The Market Place Seminar 2023, focusing on the development of Transport Corridors in Eurasia was jointly organised by UIC and FIATA (International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations). The event, sponsored by TCDD Taşımacılık, opened with a warm welcome from Philip Van den bosch, UIC Freight Deputy Director, and Ole Andreas Hagen, FIATA Working Group Rail Chair.

Key contributions included:

  • Cetin Altun of TCDD Taşımacılık emphasised the extensive freight operations connecting Turkey to various European and Asian destinations, with a special mention of the transformative impact of the Marmaray Bosphorus Tube Crossing on international railway corridors.
  • Turgut Erkeskin, FIATA President, underscored the essential role of logistic services in daily life and their contribution to the economy.
  • A video message from François Davenne, UIC Director General, highlighted UIC’s early vision for the northern Eurasian rail corridor and its proactive exploration of the middle and southern corridors.
  • Stephane Graber, FIATA Director General, explained the crucial role of international dialogue in trade corridors and stressed the importance of in-corridor facilitation.
  • Aysem Ulusoy, UTİKAD President, discussed Istanbul’s significance as a logistics hub and the role of multimodal transports in achieving carbon emission goals.
  • Marc Guigon, UIC Director of Passenger and Coordinator of the Middle-East Region, stressed the strategic importance of corridor development for economic growth and regional connections, highlighting the UIC RAME freight group’s initiative in developing a regional rail freight strategy.

The first session of this two-day event focused on policy aspects for corridor development in the region, and specifically, what is needed from a policy and investment perspective to make the middle and southern corridor(s) a success. Indeed, one of the main conclusions was that we are not talking about one single corridor but several.

Ease of use was identified as a pivotal success factor, supported by research from UNECE and the World Bank. Coordination and alignment at the legal level were deemed crucial, with OTIF (Organisation for International Carriage by Rail) and its legal instruments offering valuable assistance.

Sufficient capacity, exemplified by the Turkish Ministry of Transport, and pricing considerations, crucial for competition and as an alternative mode of transport, were also highlighted.

In the second session, speakers focused on the Middle Corridor and discussed essential conditions for successful corridor development from a business perspective, validating conclusions from recent UIC studies.

The railway industry is witnessing significant growth, marked by Iran’s modern project in the Gulf area, incorporating advanced technology and standards. Simultaneously, Turkey is undertaking the construction of over 4000 km of new railway lines, recognising the pivotal role of digitalisation in streamlining transportation processes and enhancing connectivity.

Discussions have raised concerns about the escalating costs of railways in Europe, prompting questions about the industry’s ability to carve out a distinct market niche. Emphasis was placed on the importance of harmonisation and achieving economies of scale. Stakeholders shoulder the responsibility of creating a viable market, necessitating efficient coordination and dialogue between public and private entities.

During Session 3, focusing on business perspectives on the Southern Corridor, the discussion highlighted key concepts of networks and corridors. Diversification and sustainable development were emphasised, urging the creation of various corridors. One of the proposed southern corridor spans from Iran to Europe, aiming to connect the Far East, particularly the Gulf area. Challenges include distance-related issues and coordination problems.

The North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) was discussed to enhance connectivity, facing challenges like construction issues and legal complexities.

Opportunities in south corridor development were explored, focusing on legal, technical and logistical interconnectivity. The session highlighted the potential for the railway industry in the Gulf, modern projects in several countries, and extensive railway developments in Turkey. Digitalisation’s role in easing transportation and enhancing connectivity was emphasised, alongside concerns about rising railway costs in Europe, prompting a need for the industry to create its own market niche through harmonisation and economies of scale.

The seminar concluded with an active World Café workshop on the topic “How FIATA’s and UIC’s global networks bring valuable solutions to business challenges in the region” during which participants exchanged ideas.

Introductory words were spoken by Andrea Tang, International Trade Lawyer at FIATA, who presented FIATA’s role and highlighted the significance of FIATA documents in digitalisation and corridor development for enhanced efficiency. She introduced the digital FBL (multimodal bill of lading) and mentioned that FIATA is positioned as a global logistics influencer, driving corridor efficiency and serving as a platform for international cooperation and expertise development.

Mr Van den bosch outlined the Freight Department’s structure of seven competence centres, and UIC’s active engagement in corridor development. He added that the fourth UIC study focuses on action plans for Central Asia and Middle East rail freight and emphasised the need for industry stakeholders to use toolkit elements. The consideration of a concrete operational toolkit for corridors is in progress, prompting reflection on its potential effectiveness.

After the workshop session, Tang mentioned that the proposed toolkit between UIC and FIATA was well-received, focusing on resolving operational challenges in corridors. Key aspects included driving visibility in corridors regarding time and cost, understanding needs and challenges, and developing the corridors. She added that there was a need for robust tracking and visibility, along with evaluating infrastructure equipment and establishing minimum standards. FIATA’s role was highlighted as important to adopt digitalisation, promote infrastructure and increase visibility in the supply chain, particularly for railroads and shippers. The importance of multimodality was also highlighted.

Hakan Gunel, UIC Freight Senior Advisor, pointed out the overarching challenge of a lack of harmonisation of rules for operational systems across corridors. UIC is initiating projects in the RAME region, addressing modal shift and sustainability, and studying corridor opportunities. The focus was on identifying current gaps and determining coordinated actions to address them. UIC sees its role as an umbrella organisation, coordinating efforts to establish a harmonised system.

Van den bosch highlighted the importance of support from like-minded organisations in addressing operational aspects.

UIC and FIATA teams invited all railway partners to participate in the development of the joint Toolkit.

The Market Place Seminar concluded by offering participants an exclusive opportunity to delve into the operational intricacies of MARMARAY. The itinerary comprised:
1. Maltepe Station of Marmaray
2. Marmaray Maltepe Rolling Stock Maintenance Workshop
3. TCDD Marmaray Traffic Command Centre
4. Travel by Marmaray trains from Maltepe Station to Feneryolu Station

For further information, please contact Philip Van den bosch, UIC Deputy Director Freight, at

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Opening and welcome © TCDD Taşımacılık A.Ş.
Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
World Café Style
Conclusions - World Café Style
Organising team
Technical visit - TCDD Marmaray Traffic Command Center