UIP remains committed to the rail research & innovation agenda developed under FOSTER RAIL

UIP joins other ERRAC members in this position paper and believes that ERRAC should remain an essential European Technological Platform supporting the objectives and needs of the railway sector.

BRUSSELS—The European Rail Research and Advisory Council (ERRAC) met yesterday in Brussels for the final event of the FOSTER RAIL FP7 Project. During the conference, the ERRAC members agreed on the evolution of the ERRAC European Technology Platform (ETP) and released a detailed set of roadmaps that had been previously planned in the Strategic Rail Research and Innovation Agenda (SRRIA) published in November 2014. 

Founded in 2001, ERRAC fosters rail sector innovation by guiding research efforts at the European level with the ambitious goal of creating a single European body with the competence to help revitalise and boost the competitiveness of the European rail sector. Since its inception, ERRAC has produced a number of important and influential documents and has been supported by the European Commission thanks to the implementation of Coordination and Support Action (CSA) projects. 

The ten roadmaps announced yesterday set research and innovation priorities on a thematic basis that focus on the attractiveness of rail and public transport. The themes of the ten roadmaps are: “Customer Experience”, “Strategy and Economics”, “Safety and Security”, “Capacity, performance and competitiveness”, “Energy and Environment”, “Control Command, Communication and Signalling”, “Infrastructure”, “Rolling Stock”, “IT and other enabling technologies”, and “Training and Education”.

These roadmaps set out a challenging agenda for research and innovation in the rail sector in the coming decades. Some of the research areas outlined are already being addressed by the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking and other rail research initiatives while other parts are aspirational, yet realistic.  The SRRIA, on which these roadmaps are based, specifically outlines the European research and innovation efforts needed to achieve the ambitious goals set by the European Commission in the 2011 Transport White Paper that calls for a modal shift to rail for freight and passenger transportation segments.

With the conclusion of the FOSTER RAIL project this month, and as there are no new CSA projects planned by the European Commission in Horizon 2020 to support ERRAC activities, ERRAC must now evolve in order to continue its supporting role of the rail community. In order to do so, ERRAC will build upon the excellent technology and strategy development work carried out by railway sector associations, especially in the urban and freight areas. It will also utilise the technology strategies developed by railway undertakings and suppliers to describe the development needs through further updates and new Roadmaps and Strategic Research and Innovation Agendas.

ERRAC Chairman Andy Doherty chaired the conference and commented on the recently published roadmaps, stating, “I am very pleased to see the strong commitment of ERRAC members to support the ETP in delivering these key strategic documents for the sector. The future is challenging but I believe that if the railways of Europe and their partners in industry and academia pursue the right innovative approach, as outlined in these roadmaps, the sector will be properly prepared to deliver great benefits to all who use and work in the railways.”