Loubinoux says the UIC will confirm Belozerov's appointment at its next general assembly on December 1.

In the interim, Mr Michele Elia, CEO of Italian State Railways (FS), and UIC vice-chairman, is the acting chairman of the UIC. "They can both be assured of my personal support and the very constructive contribution of the UIC staff and all members of the association," Loubinoux says.

Yakunin stepped down from RZD last week following more than a decade as president to seek election to the Federal Council, the upper chamber of Russia's parliament. He was a long-term supporter of the UIC and Loubinoux praised his contributions to the organisation.

"I wish to pay tribute, both on my personal behalf and on behalf of the international railway community, to the decisive and constructive role that Mr Yakunin played in the reorganisation of the UIC back in 2008-09 and also since his election as chairman of the association in 2012," Loubinoux says.