Calls for a new European rail research partnership

Rail European Partnership
Photo: Shift2Rail JU

The European Commission has launched an Expression of Interest to the private and public entities that are interested in becoming a founding member of a new Rail European Partnership on research and innovation to succeed the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking. The interested organisations are requested to manifest their interest before 1 October 2020.

The Rail European Partnership will focus on accelerating, with an integrated system approach, research, development and demonstrations of innovative technologies and operational solutions to make rail more attractive, enabled by digitalisation and automation. Its ambition is to reach up to 75% market uptake by 2030, improving competitiveness and the European technological global leadership in rail.

The new Partnership’s objectives are integrated with European Union policies towards “European Green Deal” objectives to shift a substantial part of the 75% of inland freight carried today by road to rail and inland waterways, to progress a “Europe fit for the digital age”, “an economy that works for people” and ”a stronger Europe in the world”.

The future Rail European Partnership will be built on a long-term commitment from the European Union and its private members to deliver solutions ready to enter industrialisation, operations and deployment.

As a next step, the European Commission will propose a common Regulation establishing the new rail partnership and other Joint Undertakings foreseen under Horizon Europe. After the consultation of the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee, the EC will make the proposal for adoption by the Council.

The final scope, objectives and budget for the partnership will depend on the political agreement on the legal act establishing the Joint Undertaking, as well as the agreement on the Master Plan between the Commission and partners. This Master Plan will be developed, on the basis inter alia of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) currently being developed by ERRAC.

The Partnership will be able to explore opportunities for funding of programmes and projects under a number of European Programmes such as the Connecting Europe Facility, Digital Europe Plan, European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund, and develop systemic synergies between the Partnership and existing funding mechanisms.

The proposed Rail European Partnership aims to bring together the wide range of actors in the rail system, from across the rail supply industry and operational sectors in order to develop a “system of systems” approach. The future Partnership aims at transforming rail’s system architecture, increasing emphasis on freight and digitalisation and enhancing focus on deployment of innovative solutions. For that purpose, it needs to involve key partners and their co-investment to deliver such a programme, including testing results at different levels before bringing them at European large scale, subject to the relevant socio-economic business case.

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