In the NE Region we had an inspiring February zoom meeting with BRA Member, Howard Rosen. He studied law at Oxford University, came over to Switzerland as a qualified solicitor in 1983 and, in 1989, established the English law firm Howard Rosen Solicitors in Zug.
For 6 years he was President of the British Swiss Chamber of Commerce, remains an Honorary Councillor and was awarded a CBE in 2003.
Howard is also President of Swiss Friends of Oxford University, set up in 2017 to support the University, its colleges and scholarship programmes.
Not content with all that, since 1996 Howard has been Chairman of the Rail Working Group (RWG) a global not for profit industry association focused on adoption of the 2007 Luxembourg Rail Protocol to the Cape Town Convention.
The Protocol was the subject of his talk to us. Its aim is to facilitate private investment in rolling stock, leaving investment in track/networks to governments. This seems a sensible approach since governments have many other urgent calls on their purse, especially with climate problems looming large.
A key obstacle to private credit for rolling stock is the lack of security for the financier.
The Luxembourg Protocol makes private finance easier and cheaper by introducing a new global legal regime to secure lenders and lessors relying on the asset as collateral.
Critical in this is the ability to unequivocally identify financed railway equipment and the Protocol introduces a new world-wide system of unique identification.
This also helps creditors and others to monitor the location, utilisation and status of the equipment and assists with insurance and maintenance.
Private finance will also be important for investment in new technologies such as hydrogen/fuel cell and battery powered locomotives, replacing diesel or conventional electric power, artificial intelligence to enable denser use of networks, thus making better use of single tracks. The scope for improvement appears endless.
The Protocol is due to enter into force in contracting states early next year.
Why is the Luxembourg Protocol relevant to all of us?
Because railways have much less impact on the environment than cars, lorries, delivery vans and of course aircraft.
In fact railways combat climate by reducing air and noise pollution, carbon emissions etc. and make economic sense too, particularly now with the explosion of energy prices!
What a great way to increase energy efficiency.
So instead of going on holiday with your car or by plane, why not try a Train Holiday?
Rail freight is an obvious way forward. The range of the networks envisaged or already in operation is huge. Linking China to Western Europe potentially reduces transit to 10 – 14 days, dramatically faster than by sea routes and much less expensive than air freight.
Then Africa will be a huge beneficiary, supporting much needed expansion of the existing rail network, thus facilitating more intra African trade, long overdue.
Howard Rosen’s role in this cross-continental effort is huge and he remains involved in all the various aspects, although it’s not even his main job!
A very interesting and stimulating evening was enjoyed by all.
Thank you Howard for being with us.