UNIFE has published a vision on digitalization, called ‘Digital Trends in the Rail Sector’, which aims to express organisation’s view on how digital transformations shall contribute to achieving the ambitions of Europe’s rail sector and its supply industry.
The paper is focusing on five major areas – Big Data, Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence (AI), New Mobility Services and the Digitalisation of the Freight Logistics Chain, which are making the greatest contributions to the digital transformation of the rail sector.
For each of these focus areas, UNIFE’s Digitalisation Platform would present its position over the related state-of-play in the sector, the current hurdles and potential opportunities, expressing key-messages as well as recommendations to fully harvest those benefits in rail transport. Th key-messages address primarily policy-makers both at EU and national level, but they also aim at bringing to the attention of all rail stakeholders.
The purpose of the Vision Paper is to bring the European rail supply industry’s views and objectives in to the centre of the digital debate and to effectively engage in a fruitful dialogue with decision-makers and other key stakeholders.
By adopting the “Council conclusions on the digitalisation of transport” at the end of 2017, the EU Member States formally recognised that fostering digital solutions in the mobility sector will bring significant benefits to the European economy and society.
As financing is a key element to boost the research an innovation, the EC proposed to allocate EUR 9.2 billion under the next MFFfor a new programme to develop and reinforce Europe’s strategic digital capacities, called ‘Digital Europe’. As transport sector has been formally identified as ‘area of public interest’ to be prioritized under the proposed ‘Digital Europe ’programme, UNIFE believes that the role of mobility (and especially rail) should be given greater emphasis, while synergies with the CEF programme should also be strengthened, UNIFE explains.
As digitalisation and automation are at the core of the vision being promoted by the Shift2Rail (S2R) Joint Undertaking, which by supporting numerous R&I projects will enable Europe’s railway sector to develop various value-adding products and services.
By actively supporting the Shift2Rail JU, the whole of Europe’s rail sector has committed to investing together in R&I activities in order to reinforce the attractiveness of rail transport for both passengers and business by embracing innovations. Building on the success of Shift2Rail, a refocusing of collaborative rail-related research activities is needed for the post-2020 programming period.
In particular, the increasing need for shared mobility, customer-focused, digital and intermodal transport tools, as well as the roll-out of new technologies, should be guiding principles for an extension of the Shift2Rail JU (or a ‘Shift2Rail 2’) which must be included in the forthcoming research and innovation Framework Programme Horizon Europe5programme (2021-2027),in order to making rail the backbone of Europe’s future mobility.