5th Transport Forum in Leipzig from 2 to 4 May 2012
Ramsauer: Transport of the future - safe and innovative
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At their 5th summit in Leipzig from 2 to 4 May, the transport ministers of the 54 member states of the International Transport Forum will be looking for answers to current transport policy challenges.
The Federal Transport Minister, Peter Ramsauer, opened the conference on 2 May:
"My ministry is placing special importance on two issues: the transport of the future must be safe and innovative."
Thus, the participants of the conference will discuss the safety of cruise ships, new guidelines to combat piracy and crisis management in aviation, among other subjects.
"Threats to the safety and security of passenger and freight transport do not stop at national borders but must be addressed by concerted action at international level. At this year’s International Transport Forum, I will therefore place a clear focus on the issue of security and safety,"
Ramsauer announced in the run-up to the event.
In Leipzig, Ramsauer will present a package of measures to improve the safety of cruise ships and solicit the support of the other transport ministers for the German proposals. International guidelines to improve safety at sea were first introduced after the sinking of the Titanic 100 years ago.
"2,200 people were on board the Titanic. Today’s largest cruise ships can carry more than 10,000 passengers and also travel to remote areas such as polar regions. The larger the ships and the distance to the coast, the more difficult it will be to save the passengers in the case of an accident",
Minister Ramsauer went on to explain the motive behind his initiative.
He argued that the introduction of mandatory simulations was to ensure that the ocean liners could be evacuated in the best possible manner and to allow for speedy disembarkation of passengers and crew members from both new ships and ships already in service – without having to carry out dangerous drills. As the Minister further explained, the provisions on life-saving appliances which were last revised 30 years ago should be adapted to the state-of-the-art technology and pursue a target-oriented rather than a too rigid approach.
"This will also make it possible to implement innovative solutions more quickly. It is also essential to make greater use of digital nautical charts and to always provide more lifejackets than passengers on board. I intend to present all of these proposals to my counterparts at the International Transport Forum in order to further improve the international safety standards for cruise ships as quickly as possible",
The transport ministers of the Alpine countries will also meet for a conference on 2 May. In their cooperation, the so-called Zurich Process which was launched 10 years ago, the participating countries are pursuing the goals of promoting smooth transport flows in the Alpine region and improving road safety, in particular in tunnels. In Leipzig, the Zurich Process group will set new priorities for their work in the fields of environment and rail transport and welcome Liechtenstein as a new member. Germany will take over the rotating presidency from Switzerland for the next two years.
About 1,000 participants are expected to come to Leipzig to take part in the workshops and panel discussions on the theme of "Seamless Transport – Making Connections" which will, among others, address the future of travel in the era of the Internet and smartphones. In cooperation with the Saxon Energy Agency, Minister Ramsauer will launch a new initiative in the Saxony electric mobility pilot region on Thursday:
"From catching a hybrid bus to hiring an electric car with your smartphone".
Alongside the ministerial talks at the round table, bilateral talks with various states are also scheduled for the Leipzig forum. A further item on the programme will be the signing of a German-Korean agreement on cooperation in the shipping sector.
In an official accession ceremony, China and Chile will be welcomed as new members to the summit. This will bring the number of ITF members to 54 countries. In addition, representatives from Asian, South American and Arab countries will also take part in the event in Leipzig as guests. On the last day of the conference, Norway will take over the one-year rotating presidency from Japan.