The key topic repeated across all discussions at the congress were challenges faced by the transport sector both in relation to rail transport specifically as well as entire intermodal chains. The congress was opened with a summary of both old and new problems faced by the sector. The opening debate dedicated to these topics was led by Marek Tarczynski – the chairman of the Polish Chamber of Forwarding and Logistics. The event, organised in Wisla by OLTIS Polska, First Signal, and the ProKolej trust, traditionally offered an opportunity for the representatives of the rail and transport/forwarding/logistics sectors to meet.

One of the prevailing topics at the panels of the congress was geopolitics in relation to the war in Ukraine as well as to the disruption in supply chains. During the debate on the new directions of development of transport corridors, Sandra Baniak, a representative of the Centre for Eastern Studies, pointed out the intense development of rail corridors as alternatives to maritime transport. Especially those linked to the initiative known to the community as the New Silk Road, in connection to the concept of the Central Corridor. As was emphasised in the discussions, investments into linear and point infrastructure are essential, more so in the era when it is necessary to keep in mind military significance of critical rail infrastructure. The debate led by a Port of Koper representative Dariusz Mierkiewicz saw geopolitics and the need for diversification of transport corridors resonated throughout. The congress offered a dynamic debate supported by visual presentations and emphasised the current need of creating alternative supply chains for Ukraine.

The second day was full of panel discussions and was focused on the topic of supply chain disruptions. Although the discussions started on global topics such as pandemics, economic crises, blocking shipping routes or the impact of war on functioning of transport chains, the open and dynamic debate showed that for the participants of the congress what is actually more important are local matters and the need to develop technology to support functioning supply chains and to support operation of transport infrastructure during crisis situations.

Geopolitics, especially in relation to the war in Ukraine, has been reflected in the recent years in the rail industry, and especially when it comes to legal matters. Michał Zięba, a lawyer giving a speech during one of the seminars brought up problems rising from the sanctions imposed on rail transport in terms of transport of goods itself, as well as in terms of transport restrictions.

The seminar of The Centre for EU Transport Projects on financing investments using European Union funds in the 2023-2027 outlook saw great interest this year again as well.

The intermodal section of the congress was concluded by a question asked by Jakub Majewski, member of the board of PKP PLK and the chairman of the ProKolej trust – what strategies are proposed and realised towards the development of the logistics business and if there is a possibility of a cooperation between railway undertakings and road carriers and market actors. The debate painted a picture of a market where there is a clear and important competition between individual operators, but at the same time there is a necessary cooperation in international as well as local transport. Synergies between different modes of transport and them complementing each other is necessary, although this has presented a significant challenge in the last few years, especially in the context of road carriers and rail. There is still a major advantage in access to road infrastructure, and decreasing volumes of transport of goods on the global market keep pressuring road carriers to often aggressively contest shipments which are yet still transported on rail.

The congress in Wisla is not only a place of debate and expert seminars, but the meeting of partners from the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia is also an opportunity for charity activities, such as supporting the SOS Wioski Dziecięce “Sindibad” fund, family home for temporary housing in Ustron, and fundraiser to support Helenka – a brave little girl fighting with a rare genetic disorder.

The prestigious International Rail and Intermodal Congress which became a fundamental entry in experts’ calendars kicked off this year’s spring conference season. This important event welcomed railway undertakings, infrastructure managers, and technology suppliers in Wisla where they formed the future direction of rail and intermodal transport together.

The working and social atmosphere of the congress is presented in a short  video clip.