A Preparatory Commission for the establishment of an International Registry under the Luxembourg Protocol was set up by Resolution No. 1 of the Luxembourg diplomatic Conference on 23 February 2007. The Rail Preparatory Commission is currently co-chaired by Peter Bloch (USA) and Mervi Kaikkonen (Finland).
6th Session of the Preparatory Commission
The Sixth Session of the Preparatory Commission, convened jointly by UNIDROIT and the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF), with the participation of members with voting rights only, took place via the email confirmation procedure under Rule 16 of the Rules of Procedure of the Preparatory Commission, to approve the draft contracts, their annexed schedules and related documents (software security agreement; deed of business continuity), for the establishment and operation of the International Registry for railway rolling stock. The Sixth Session of the Preparatory Commission was concluded on 31 October 2014 with the approval of the above-mentioned contractual documents.
7th Session of the Preparatory Commission
The Seventh Session of the Rail Preparatory Commission was held in Rome at the seat of UNIDROIT on 11 December 2014. The meeting, convened jointly by UNIDROIT and OTIF and co-chaired by Peter Bloch (USA) and Tuire Simonen (Finland), took note of the positive outcome of the Sixth Session as well as of the signature of the contract between the Preparatory Commission and Regulis SA. The draft baseline Regulations for the International Registry for railway rolling stock were discussed and approved. The planning of future work was also considered. In addition to UNIDROIT, OTIF and the Rail Working Group, representatives of several member States were present, as were SITA and the designated Registrar for Regulis SA. A representative of the European Commission also attended the meeting, the European Union recently having approved the Rail Protocol.
8th Session of the Preparatory Commission
On 6-7 December 2018, UNIDROIT and OTIF held the eighth session of the Rail Preparatory Commission for the establishment of an International Registry under the Luxembourg Rail Protocol in Rome, immediately after the UNIDROIT General Assembly. The session was attended by 32 State delegations. It was opened by the Chairman of the UNIDROIT General Assembly, Ambassador Paul Dühr of the Embassy of Luxembourg in Rome, UNIDROIT Secretary-General Professor Ignacio Tirado, and Chief of Technical Interoperability of OTIF Mr Bas Leermakers. The Commission, Co-Chaired by Mr Peter Bloch and Ms Mervi Kaikkonen (who participated remotely), approved the Statutes and the Rules of Procedure of the Supervisory Authority, as well as future steps leading to the entry into force of the Protocol. A number of participating delegations made statements relating to the benefits connected with the future operation of the Protocols as well as to the status of the ratification process in their legal system. On the second day, panellists briefed interested delegations on the Protocol and its implementation.
9th Session of the Preparatory Commission
On 8 April 2021, OTIF and UNIDROIT held the 9th session of the Rail Preparatory Commission for the establishment of an International Registry under the Luxembourg Rail Protocol. Though it was conducted remotely, the session was hosted by the OTIF Secretariat in Berne.
The session was attended by 28 State delegations, as well as by the European Commission, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), UNECE – United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, and the African Union. It was opened by the Secretaries General of UNIDROIT and OTIF, respectively Professor Ignacio Tirado and Mr Wolfgang Küpper. The Commission, co-chaired by Mr Peter Bloch (USA) and Mr Antti Leinonen (Finland), approved a revised version of the Draft Regulations for the International Registry, which would be issued in due course by the Supervisory Authority in accordance with Luxembourg Protocol to the Cape Town Convention. The Commission also received a briefing of the Report on developments since the last Preparatory Commission session and the activities of the Ratification Task Force, and was informed on the activity of the Group of Experts established by UNECE for the Permanent Identification of Railway Rolling Stock (PIRRS). A number of participating delegations made very supportive statements relating to the benefits connected with the future operation of the Protocols as well as to the status of the ratification process in their legal system.
Following the Rail Preparatory Commission session, the Rail Working Group organised a panel entitled “Building Back Greener: The role of the Luxembourg Rail Protocol in the Post-Covid Economy”. The event, hosted by OTIF, was opened by the Secretaries General of OTIF and UNIDROIT, respectively Mr Wolfgang Küpper and Professor Ignacio Tirado, followed by an introductory statement from the Deputy Director of the Land Directorate at DG Move (European Commission) Ms Claire Depré.
RWG Chairman Howard Rosen then moderated a panel with participation of Alberto Mazzola (Executive Director, Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies), Anne Mazière (Head of Business Support / Executive Director, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank), and Jamie Holley (CEO of Traxtion and Chairman of the African Rail Industry Association).
The Ratification Task Force members include the joint chairs of the Preparatory Commission Peter Bloch (USA) and Mervi Kaikonnen (Finland) – as well as representatives of OTIF, UNIDROIT, the Rail Working Group, SITA and the Registrar-designate Regulis SA. Other States, such as Luxembourg and Sweden have since joined the Ratification Task Force.
The RTF has planned a detailed ratification strategy and an intense agenda for its work for the purpose of reaching the number of adhesions required for the entry into force of the Protocol and the operability of the international Registry within a reasonable timeframe.
The Ratification Task Force or ad hoc subgroups meet regularly, formally and informally, mostly via teleconference.
The updated status of signatures and ratifications/accessions to the Luxembourg Rail Protocol is available here.
Latest Signatures and Ratifications:
As of 21 January 2021, the Protocol only needs one additional ratification/accession alongside the issuance by the Supervisory Authority of a certificate confirming that the International Registry is fully operational to enter into force (taking into account that such certificate is needed for the Registry to start its operation).
On Wednesday 17 October 2018, UNIDROIT partnered with the Rail Working Group to deliver a Luxembourg Rail Protocol stakeholder briefing in Madrid, hosted by the law firm Bird & Bird. Building upon earlier implementation activities in Spain, the event brought together legal experts, manufacturers, and private sector stakeholders to discuss the Rail Protocol’s possible future implementation in Spain. The event was opened by UNIDROIT Secretary-General Ignacio Tirado with expert presentations from UNIDROIT Deputy Secretary-General Anna Veneziano, Howard Rosen (Chairman of the Rail Working Group), Elizabeth Hirst (then Managing Director of Regulis SA) and Teresa de las Heras Ballell Rodriguez (Professor of Commercial Law at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid).
On 1 February 2019, the UNIDROIT Secretariat participated in a consultation workshop considering France’s possible ratification of the Cape Town Convention. Hosted by the Université Paris II (Panthéon-Assas), the workshop brought together international experts, government representatives, private sector lawyers and academia to discuss the benefits and challenges associated with implementing the Cape Town Convention and its Protocols. Presentations were delivered by the late Professor Pierre Crocq (Centre Paris II Assas) regarding issues associated with how the Cape Town Convention would operate in relation to French secured transaction laws and Professor Jean-François Riffard (Université Clermont-Ferrand) regarding which declarations under the Convention and Protocols might be most appropriate for France.
On 13 March 2019, Deputy Secretary-General Professor Anna Veneziano participated remotely in a special workshop entitled “The Future for Railway Finance: How the Luxembourg Rail Protocol Will Transform the Rail Sector in Indonesia and beyond”. The Workshop was organised by the Rail Working Group in cooperation with the Ministry of Law and Human Rights in Jakarta, and included representatives from the Rail Working Group, the Ministries of Law and Human Rights, Foreign Affairs and Transport of Indonesia, National Railways, Regulators, local law firms, financiers and manufacturers.
On 23 March 2019, UNIDROIT was invited to participate in a High-Level Seminar entitled “Railway rolling stock financing: a new solution for Africa” in Marrakech, Morocco, organised by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The seminar was included as a Side Event at the 52nd conference of UNECA, which UNIDROIT was invited to attend as Observer. Deputy Secretary-General Anna Veneziano shared the introductory addresses at the seminar, on a panel moderated by the Chief of UNECA Energy, Infrastructure and Services Team Robert Lisinge, together with UNECA Director of Regional Integration and Trade Division Stephen Karingi, followed by presentations by Rail Working Group Chairman Howard Rosen, Senior Economic Affairs Officer Energy, Infrastructure and Services Section of UNECA Soteri Gatera and the CEO of the RailRoad Association Mesela Nhlapo. The objective of the event, attended by high level governmental officials and private sector representatives, was to discuss Rail financing in Africa and how the Luxembourg Rail Protocol can play a key role in attracting private capital to create a sustainable model for existing and new rail projects in the context the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development as well as for the African Union´s Agenda 2063.
On 14 May 2019, the Luxembourg Rail Protocol was presented in the context of an exclusive Rail Working Group briefing in Spanish in the Madrid offices of Watson Farley & Williams. Secretary-General Professor Ignacio Tirado and Professor Teresa de las Heras Ballell provided a thorough presentation of the legal and economic aspects of the Protocol to key Spanish financiers and other stakeholders in the rail sector, who participated actively in the discussions.
The Luxembourg Rail Protocol was also promoted on 8 July 2019 in the context of an event in Beijing promoting the Cape Town System, and on 22 October 2019 at an event hosted by Strathmore University Law School in Nairobi.
The Protocol was also featured as a Side Event on 12 November 2019, during the MAC Diplomatic Conference in Pretoria, to present and discuss the Legal Operation and Economic Benefits of the Luxembourg Rail Protocol to the Cape Town Convention, kindly hosted at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa (DIRCO).
On 10 March 2020, co-sponsors UNIDROIT and the Rail Working Group participated in a conference funded by Aston University and the Global Challenges Research Fund in Lagos, Nigeria. The Conference opened with a keynote speech from Mr Jonathan Fortnam (Dean of Aston Law School, Aston University UK) and was divided into three sessions, the third of which was dedicated to the benefits of UNIDROIT’S Rail and MAC Protocols to the Cape Town Convention in Secured Transaction Law Reform in Nigeria and West Africa. Secretary-General Ignacio Tirado participated remotely and delivered an introductory speech on the Cape Town Convention, Mining, Agriculture & Construction (MAC) Protocol and security interests in mobile equipment, followed by Mr Soteri Gatera (Chief Industrialisation and Infrastructure at the UN Economic Commission for Africa UNECA) on Private sector financing of rolling stock (including railway) equipment in West Africa, and Mr Howard Rosen (Chairman of the Rail Working Group) on the Enforcement of security interests in railway equipment and the unique identification system of rolling stock equipment .
Following the 9th Rail Preparatory Commission session, in 2021 the Unidroit Secretariat participated in a panel organised by the RWG entitled “Building Back Greener: The role of the Luxembourg Rail Protocol in the Post-Covid Economy”, which focused on the potential benefits of the Protocol to foster global sustainable growth. The event, hosted by OTIF, was opened by the Secretaries General of OTIF and Unidroit followed by an introductory statement from Claire Depré the Deputy Director of the Land Directorate at DG Move (European Commission). Howard Rosen (RWG Chairman) moderated a panel with participation of Alberto Mazzola (Executive Director, Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies), Anne Mazière (Head of Business Support / Executive Director, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank), and Jamie Holley (CEO of Traxtion and Chairman of the African Rail Industry Association).
The Deputy Secretary-General Professor Anna Veneziano represented UNIDROIT as an Observer in the Committee of Expert of the 53rd session (17-23 March 2021), dedicated to Africa’s Sustainable Industrialization and Diversification in the Digital Era in the Context of COVID-19.
UN Economic Commission for Africa (UN ECA): At the the Ministerial Conference of the UN ECA countries held in Marrakech, Morocco, from 23 to 25 March 2019, a Resolution concerning the Luxembourg Rail Protocol was approved. It mandated the UN ECA to “continue its awareness raising and advocacy across the continent” of the Protocol “with a view to elucidating its merits and potential contribution to the financing of rolling stock in rail projects”, and to “inform interested parties from the public sector and the private sector across the continent on, and educated them in, the way that private credit and leasing can assist with providing the financial resources necessary to revitalize and expand the African rail network and the benefits of becoming party to the Luxembourg Rail Protocol” (E/ECA/CM/52/2).
PIDA endorsement – A conclusive communiqué was issued by the Ministers and delegates to the Fifth Week of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (5th PIDA Week, Cairo 25-29 November 2019) and the organizing and partners institutions, including the African Union Commission (AUC), African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD), the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the other African Union Members States, the Regional Economic Communities, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the German Cooperation, the European Union (EU), the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Private Sector representatives, as well as distinguished invitees, urging African States to ratify the Luxembourg Rail Protocol.
EU Transport Council
On 3 June 2021, the European Transport Council issued its Conclusions on “Putting Rail at the Forefront of Smart and Sustainable Mobility”, as the outcome of a dedicated meeting linked to the European Year of Rail. In this context, the role of the Luxembourg Rail Protocol in providing an enabling legal environment for investment in railway rolling stock, as part of a more general strategy on sustainable mobility, was expressly recognised in the Declaration issued by the Council (para. 38).
On 14 December 2021, the European Commission launched its “Action plan to boost long distance and cross-border passenger rail”, which contains its clear commitment to the Luxembourg Rail Protocol, stating the following: “In its conclusions of 3 June 2021, the Council recognised “that major investment by the sector in international long-distance rolling stock is required” and “also that investment is urgently needed from the private sector” reminding “Member States of the existence of international agreements and treaties which facilitate private investment, such as the Luxembourg Rail Protocol to the Cape Town Convention [on International Interests in Mobile Equipment].” The Commission stated that “the European Union (in respect of its competences) and several Member States have already ratified the Protocol. Upon its entry into force, the Protocol will make it easier and cheaper for the private sector to finance railway rolling stock. The Commission will promote its swift implementation across the [European] Union.”
The economic benefits of the Luxembourg Rail Protocol have been assessed by several studies conducted by an independent organisation (OXERA):
The Luxembourg Rail Protocol promotes sustainable growth and environmental protection strategies – The Protocol will be a powerful tool to promote sustainable growth and global environmental protection strategies particularly connected to mobility, in furtherance of UN goals (see the 2016 Mobilizing Sustainable Transport for Development Report by the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport; see also the 2020 European Commission Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy). Rail is widely accepted today as the basis for environmentally sustainable transport, both of people (in towns and across countries and regions) and of freight, thus providing one core element in the strategies to combating climate change, pursuant to the objectives of the Paris agreements.
On 2-4 September and 14-15 December 2020, UNIDROIT participated in the first two meetings of the Group of Experts established by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe for the Permanent Identification of Railway Rolling Stock. The meetings also included delegations from the Rail Working Group and OTIF.
UNIDROIT was invited to attend as the Cape Town Convention created a new global system for the recognition, prioritization and enforcement of creditor and lessor rights under security lease or conditional sale agreements for certain types of movable equipment, based on registration of creditors’ rights in an international registry. The Luxembourg Rail Protocol applies the Cape Town Convention to all railway rolling stock and provides a global system for uniquely identifying the stock. It uses identification numbers issued by an international registry based in Luxembourg. The Luxembourg Rail Protocol is expected to enter into force in the near future. The system allocating the unique identification numbers is known as the Unique Rail Vehicle Identification System (URVIS). Unique identification will have the benefit of facilitating tracking of the status and location of equipment in real time, enabling predictive maintenance programmes and supporting more efficient accident analysis for liability and insurance. Due to its broad impact, unique identification will be an important consideration also for countries who do not have a railway but wish to register railway rolling stock.
A third meeting of the Expert Group, attended by the Deputy Secretary-General, was held on 6-7 May 2021. The meeting featured, among others, discussions on best practices in, and national requirements for rolling stock marking; use cases and the placing of the URVIS number on rolling stock; technological aspects; identification evaluation and selection of possible solutions; and the development of recommendations and standards.
On 13-14 September 2021, UNIDROIT participated in the fourth meeting of the Group of Experts established by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) for the Permanent Identification of Railway Rolling Stock (PIRRS). The meeting, attended for UNIDROIT by Deputy Secretary General Professor Anna Veneziano, continued the fruitful discussion on the development of Model Rules for the implementation of the Luxembourg Rail Protocol URVIS number for registration of railway rolling stock.
UNIDROIT also participated in the 5th meeting on 4-5 May 2022, which addressed the development of the permanent marking on the Unique Rail Vehicle Identification System. UNIDROIT then also participated in the informal drafting group meeting that had been set up at the 5th session of the Group of Experts on PIRRS – with the aim of implementing the decisions taken at that session and finalise the draft Model Rules and the Terms of Reference for the Revision Committee, from 1 to 3 June 2022. The 6th session of the PIRRS Group of Experts is scheduled to take place in 29 – 30 August 2022.