…the European rail industry proposes and develops the best solutions for rail infrastructure, freight and passengers transport, while the contracts signed worldwide certify it as the leading supporter of a sustainable transport mode.
The team group of the European agencies and bodies that support the business environment and innovation in the European Union, the Shift2Rail initiative contributes to shaping an intelligent and sustainable railway system through its actions that favour research and innovation in this industrial sector.
The objective of the Shift2Rail technological initiative is to build a Single European Railway Area, to increase the attractiveness and competitiveness of the European railway system in order to provide, in turn, modal shift from roads to railways which is, undoubtedly, a much more sustainable mode of transport. Among others, Shift2Rail also plans to sustain the primacy of the European rail industry over the global profile market.
“Innovation, by means of communications, automation, digitalisation and connections to the latest equipment that defines artificial intelligence, is the one step that the European rail sector has to take in order to ensure user-focused mobility, as a service provided to passengers of freight transport players. Mobility, next to industrial evolution, has to back a new business model by highlighting its attractiveness and competitiveness”, believes Carlo Borgini, Executive Director Shift2Rail.
“Shift2Rail is an opportunity for the European railway sector, the latter being an authentic model of multimodal system that logically shares the available funds to provide seamless transport to passengers. We can tell the same about the transcontinental rail freight corridors that halve travel times compared to road transport for the same freight volumes.
Thus, Shift2Rail contributes to the development of a technological revolution that intensifies safety, performance, infrastructure capacity, as well as the travel speed. Last but not least, the decarbonisation of the railway sector, by improving performance, will help achieve the COP 21 objectives by placing railway transport above high-quality transport systems in terms of environment protection”, explains Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of the International Union of Railways (UIC).
The Shift2Rail Work Plan for 2017 was also presented in March and the Plan underlines the objectives of the research and development activities that will be carried out this year by the members of the Shift2Rail initiative. Thus, the research and development activities will be implemented by launching calls for proposals addressed to both Shift2Rail members and third parties. Specific calls for tenders will be also launched.
2016 was a year of transition for Shift2Rail, the year when the initiative got its autonomy and started the research and innovation activities, as a result of launching its own call for proposals. Shift2Rail Annual Plan for 2017 describes the research and innovation activities to be developed by its members and by the beneficiaries of the calls for proposals over the next years.
The Annual Work Plan, announced in March, includes actions such as the launch of two calls for proposals and a call for tender, all with an estimated value of EUR 114 million, a call for proposals, but this time addressed exclusively to Shift2Rail members, worth EUR 93 million. Then, another call for proposals will be launched, but only to third parties, non-members, worth EUR 20 million. These calls for proposals will be launched in July-September 2017.
The Shift2Rail initiative is structured on five innovation programmes. The first programme refers to new concepts for reliable and cost-efficient trains (including large capacity trains and high-speed trains); the programme benefits from a EUR 49 million financing. The second innovation programme, advanced management of traffic and control systems, is financed with EUR 52.5 million.
Large-capacity, reliable and cost-efficient infrastructure is the third innovative programme developed under the Shift2Rail umbrella with a financing of EUR 27.5 million.
IT solutions for attractive rail services is the fourth innovative research programme that benefits, in turn, from a financing of EUR 16 million.
The fifth innovative programme, technologies for an attractive and sustainable rail freight transport, enjoys a financial support of EUR 18 million.
Overall, Shift2Rail will benefit from a financing of over one billion euros and the duration of the entire project is six-seven years.
The increasing transport demand, agglomerations, providing energy for traction, as well as climate change are some of the most stringent problems of the European Union and of the world, in general. Tackling and overcoming these problems will most certainly put pressure on the rail transport segment to have a higher share in the transport demand over the next decades.
The studies carried out over the past years show that, in Europe, Research and Innovation in the railway sector are fragmented and, the establishment of a Single European Railway Area needs coordination, not just at the level of infrastructure management, but also at the level of freight and passengers transport operations, as well as in the rail industry sector, equipment and rolling stock suppliers.
The Shift2Rail performance will be measured with the help of quantity indicators, including a 100% increase of rail transport capacity, a 50% cut of lifecycle costs and a 50% increase of reliability and punctuality.
The innovative technologies and solutions to be developed, proved and validated by Shift2Rail are expected to stimulate the EU rail sector competitiveness compared to the other transport modes and foreign competition, to create jobs and increase exports.
Shift2Rail will also stimulate the introduction of better trains in the market (more silent and more comfortable), trains that will operate on an innovative and reliable railway infrastructure, with reduced lifecycle costs, but also a higher capacity to face the increasing freight and passenger transport demand. All these solutions will be developed by European rail industry companies and they will boost their competitiveness in the global market.
by Elena Ilie