3rd TopRail-RailtoLand Forum held on 26 October 2021, online

Published by Cécile Gendrot on

The third TopRail Forum was held online on 26 October in cooperation with RailtoLand Erasmus + European Project consortium under the motto “Railway and tourism: a cultural perspective”.

The key issue during this Forum was the landscape as a tourist resource, which is especially relevant to the development of entrepreneurial actions in the railway system and improvement of the traveller experience. When travelling by rail, customers are attracted by natural beauty, as well as cultural and historical assets such as tunnels and bridges. It is the combination of the uniqueness of the landscapes, the beauty of the train carriages and the onboard experience that creates an extraordinary experience for travellers.

The Forum hosted high-level representatives and experts from various international organizations, including representatives from Spain, France, the Netherlands, Iran, Russia, the United Kingdom as well as by representatives from the international associations such as Fedecrail, who shared their experience and knowledge in the field of railway tourism.

The Forum was opened by the welcoming discourse of Mr. Carles Casas Esplugas, Director of Strategic & Prospective Planning at FGC and TopRail chairman and closed by a Round Table under the theme “Landscape as a resource for railway tourism”, moderated by Dr. Nacima Baron, Université Gustave Eiffel, ENPC.

The topics discussed included:

  • How can we make the train inviting for tourism? – Mark van Hagen, NS
  • Experience, behaviour and cognition program- Simone Morgagni, SNCF
  • International and Tourism Trains Project – Bahram Zarghami, RAI
  • Trains as a tour guide for Russian landscapes (discover the country from the train window) – Denis Davydov, RZD
  • Cruise train trips: Trans-Siberian Railway by «Imperial Russia» train – Olga Nikulina, RZD Tour
  • The role of modern and heritage rail as part of sustainable tourism in the modern destination marketing strategy – Jaap Nieweg, Fedecrail
  • Rail Tourism Cooperation in Cornwall – Mael Garrec, Cornwall County Council

Dr. Clara Zamorano coordinator with Dr. Ana Berrocal, of RailtoLand project, presented the project which is a collective ideation platform about innovate challenges for communicating European Cultural Landscapes by train. She added that the project not only focuses on innovations, but also on education and learning activities with students, professors and experts. More information about this project is available here https://railtoland.eu/.

The Forum was started by the announcement of the winner of the TopRail photo contest “My Secret Rail Spots”. Mr. Bart Troncquo, Operations Officer FBMZ-FOVR at Infrabel kindly shared his inspiration for the photo of a modern national and international railway station designed by the famous architect Santiago Calatrava and situated in Liège-Guillemins, Belgium.

During the welcoming remarks, Mr. Carles Casas Esplugas highlighted that rail is not just business, but that it also includes emotions and sentiments which contribute to rail providing a unique experience for the customers. He also added that uniqueness, emotions and sustainability are the three elements common to the rail tourism services.

Mr. Mark van Hagen, while delivering his presentation, summarized that the main goal at the end of the day is to make customer happy, give them a reason to travel and provide a possible solution of creating an inviting rail map.

This idea was reinforced by Mr. Simone Morgagni, while talking about experience, behaviour and cognition program, emphasised that the new technologies and innovative methods have the potential to make railway landscape always accessible and open to everyone.

Mr. Bahram Zarghami introduced the project around International and Tourist Trains in Iran, focusing on the themed trains and tourism attractions to can be visited by train in Iran. He announced that the Trans-Iranian Railways has been just declared UNESCO heritage in September 2021.

Mr. Denis Davydov, RZD, shared a presentation on railway tourism in Russia, focusing on the “Flagship projects” such as the trains “Caucasian Pearl”, “Sochi”, “Moscow-Rostov-on-Don-Elista-Moscow”, “Ruskealian express”, “Meteor”, and multimodal tour “Baikal Fairy tale”. The topic on Russian Railway tours was followed by a representative from RZD Tour, Ms. Olga Nikulina, who told about “Imperial Russia Train” which a cruise train is running on the trans-Siberian Railway and the Arctic Circle.

Mr. Jaap Nieweg during his presentation told a story about the role of modern and heritage rail as part of sustainable tourism in the modern destination marketing strategy, that can be a successful weapon in the recovery from the losses during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Finally, Mr. Mael Garrec shared some highlights about Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership which connect people with jobs, leisure and retail opportunities as well as improves the mental and physical health of passengers by promoting active lifestyles and access to green and blue spaces.

Finally, Dr. Nacima Baron closed the event by sharing some conclusions and highlighting the main inputs presented during the second part of the Forum. She highlighted that railway tourism requires cooperation and coordination between different entities as well as there is the need for the railway cultural tourism to take the opportunity during the Covid-19 sanitary crisis to change the tourism system and to take the direction towards qualitative tourism, which means domestic and thematic tourism.

The event offered an opportunity to compare best practices in the rail sector throughout the world and was aimed at strengthening cooperation among members and partners.

If you have lost the opportunity to join the meeting you are invited to enjoy the forum in the following link: Rail Event – 3rd TopRail RailtoLand Forum: Railway and Tourism: a cultural perspective, 26/10/2021

For mor info check

TopRail Website https://toprail.org/

Should you have any questions, please contact Vanessa Pérez, Senior Advisor, Passenger Department: perez@uic.org