THE more entrepreneurs we have in the market taking ownership will only enhance the technical pillar of the Fourth Railway Package." Mr Libor Lochman's, executive director of the Community of European Railways (CER), point in his address during the opening session of the International Railway Summit 2015 in Barcelona on February 19 was apt given the presence of delegates from various SMEs in the audience and the entrepreneurial spirit on display throughout the event.

IRITSMeetings held between buyers and suppliers over the two days gave these delegates the opportunity to present their latest technological innovations to prospective customers during 30-minute one-on-one sessions. Many praised the opportunity for smaller companies to take the spotlight and share their expertise and experience, while suppliers said they were hopeful that these meetings might lead to fruitful exchanges in the future.

Delegates joined the parallel conference sessions in time slots when they were not allocated a meeting. Lochman reported that progress with the Fourth Railway Package had lost some momentum in the first part of this year following the Italian presidency as differences of opinion over the political pillar of the legislation continue to persist. He added that "in the best case scenario, the European Railway Agency (ERA) will be involved in rolling stock certification in 2019-20."

More positive news was reported by Mr Philippe Citroën, director general of the European Rail Industry Association (Unife), who said that work would begin this year on the first projects included in the Shift2Rail joint research initiative; Roll2Rail, IT2Rail, IN2Rail and Log2Rail are all part of the Horizon 2020 initiative and worth a collective €52m.

Procurement was another key theme for the conference, including best practice in the procurement of new infrastructure and equipment. East Japan Railway executive director, Brussels branch, Mr Ichiro Takahaski outlined his company's new procurement policy, which seeks to unlock innovations from international suppliers to maximise the potential of its annual €1.7bn procurement budget. Recent international procurement projects include a contract for new DMUs and CBTC for Tokyo's Joban Line.

Mr Matthew Smith, procurement manager for international law firm K&L Gates, outlined the many challenges facing the procurement of rail infrastructure projects, pointing out that according to the World Bank the average cost overrun for rail projects is 44.7% in constant prices.

Mr Klavs Hestbek Lund, project director, transport systems for Copenhagen metro developer Metroselskabet, told delegates how the city is using the experience it gained from constructing the first phase of the network to optimise procurement for the City Ring circle line. "Everyone should build two metros," he says. "The first to learn and the second to use the lessons learned."

Second day

Open-access was one of the main themes on the second day. Professor Andrea Giuricin, strategic analyst for NTV, noted that competition has been a major success for the high-speed market in Italy, which despite the difficult economic situation, grew by 39% between 2011 and 2013.

"Competition has created 28% of new demand in high-speed rail in Italy," he says. "We are seeing the Ryanair effect on our rail network. This model requires a change of political mindset and there is a need to see competition in rail as an opportunity."

Following the success of the Barcelona event, International Railway Summit 2016 will take place in February 2016 in Vienna. IRJ is again excited to be part of this event and we look forward to inviting many more buyers and suppliers to join us.