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Innovating for the future European rail system

With the recent publication of both the 1st Call of Horizon 2020 and the draft regulatory text for the SHIFT²RAILinitiative, the European Rail Operating Community (ROC) is preparing for the start of a very exciting period.

The first half of 2014 will see the launch of a whole range of initiatives that lead towards an attractive and innovative future rail system.

With a budget of 70 billion € over seven years, Horizon 2020 will support active research and innovation developments to the benefit of the whole European economy. For 2014-2015, 52 million € have specifically been allocated for specific work in the rail sector that is centred on three core topics:

  • I²I - Intelligent Infrastructure
  • Smart Rail Services
  • New generation of rail vehicles

Together with this specific rail budget, the whole 1st call of Horizon 2020 presents a considerable number of opportunities for the ROC. Working collaboratively it will enable the ROC to prepare and submit proposals which will help the sector to prepare for the challenges ahead. These challenges relate to the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the future rail system and support the main objectives set out in the Challenge 2050 business vision.

The UIC European Region is, through its Research and Innovation Coordination Group (RICG), actively supporting companies in the preparation of consortia and relevant proposals to be submitted.

More can be found about Horizon 2020 by clicking here: http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/

The creation of a regional approach as part of the multi-regional architecture of UIC commenced in 2008. This allows programmes and activities to be tailor-made to meet the specific need of each region.

The UIC-Europe region comprises 117 member companies from 39 countries (including Russia and Turkey) and amounting to some 350,000 kilometres of rail network. (see “members UIC Europe”). This has evolved over the years as a result of excellent cooperation between the rail operators to the point where there are many services that operate across the operating boundaries of member companies thereby forming a European rail network.

The objective is to promote a competitive and sustainable rail transport system serving more than 500 million citizens across Europe.

This web page developed by the UIC Europe team is designed with a dual purpose:

  • to help promote all activities and projects undertaken by the region and
  • to facilitate the communication and day to day cooperation between the European team and the European member companies.

Further it allows:

  • a better coordination with the other sector associations (CER CER Community of the European Railways & EIM EIM European Rail Infrastructure Managers ) that engage with the EOC, the CTG (Coordination Technical Group) and the GRB (Group of Representative Bodies) that involves all the sector associations
  • the activities and projects undertaken within the European region (data capture and analysis, research and innovation, standards, etc.) to be easily accessible to members.

 The Regional Assembly Europe

The Regional Assembly Europe is made up of 58 active members, 38 associate members and 21 affiliate members (see “members UIC Europe”) It works according to internal regulations attached (see “European Internal Regulations”), is piloted by a Management Committee composed of 15 members (see “members of EMC”) and has regular meetings (see “calendar of meetings”).

It works according to internal regulations attached (see “European Internal Regulations”), is piloted by a Management Committee composed of 15 members (see “members of EMC”) and has regular meetings (see “calendar of meetings”).

Mr Moretti (CEO FSI), new chairman of the region since 1st January 2014, proposed some strategic orientations during his speech at the regional assembly of December 2013 which can be downloaded here:

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Speech Mr Moretti RA-Europe December 2013

 The programme of work

The UIC is managing a number of projects that fit into all kind of fields, from research to standardisation and which cover all the core technical domains that make up the rail system.

The region has recently facilitated the production of two major documents in the context of the above mentioned EC Innovation programme (Horizon 2020 and Shift²Rail):

 Challenge 2050: Rail is vital to the well-being of Europe’s society and the strength of its economy. To maintain and develop this role in the future, the sector needs to meet enormous challenges: protect the social, economic and environmental fabric. The railway community has developed this document which identifies these challenges and makes commitment to addressing them.

Challenge 2050 is the European rail sector’s shared perception of where the rail system could be in 2050 and identifies the many goals that are complementary to this vision and support a rail system that is responsive to the needs of Europe’s citizens. It is built around 3 pillars of Policy, Technology and Services all combining to ensure that the rail system of 2050 is one that is attractive to the end user and that rail is the customer’s preferred land transport mode of choice (see complete report “Challenge 2050”).

Rail is vital to the well-being of Europe’s society and the strength of its economy. It has an unprecedented opportunity to achieve the sustainability required for the twenty first century and respond to the expected growth in transport demand, both passenger and freight, that this implies. In order to describe these challenges, the European railway community has developed Challenge 2050, a vision that identifies what needs to be done and it made a commitment to address them. That foundation of the approach to the rail system of the future was built around three main pillars of Policy, Technology and Services.

The document takes account of the European Commission’s 2011 White Paper on Transport but also identifies a significant set of business challenges and makes a commitment to addressing them. It takes cognisance of the Shift²Rail initiative and it is anticipated that this document will be a useful focus for the development of ideas for future innovation through the EU Framework Programme “Horizon 2020” either as direct projects or via ERRAC ERRAC European Rail Research Advisory Council and its RailRoute 2050 and the FOSTERRAIL project.

It is intended to encourage delivery of a business-led vision for the sector as a whole, describe how rail will meet the challenges of the modern rail era ERA European Railway Agency and to describe the role rail should play in the development of Europe as a global region.

It identifies a significant number of goals that are complementary to the vision and which will support a rail system that is responsive to the needs of Europe’s citizens. It has been endorsed by the following major rail stakeholders:

Rail has a pivotal role in delivering a competitive and environmentally-friendly transport system, growing the economy, enhancing personal mobility and supporting social cohesion. The rail system has adapted and will continue to adapt, enabling further modal shift and maintaining its position as the mode of choice, consistently and the sector is confident that Challenge 2050 will provide the launchpad for the future. The document has been produced in a collaborative manner with contributions from all the main stakeholders coordinated on their behalf into the existing version by the UIC’s European team. Challenge 2050 can be donwloaded here:

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Challenge 2050

The second major document was published in February 2014.

 The Rail Technical Strategy Europe (RTSE):

All over Europe, the railway is becoming more and more popular, and individual countries within Europe are facing similar challenges: to run more trains carrying more people and freight in a more sustainable, cost effective and efficient way.

The railways themselves are also physical geographical connections between States and offer a smart way of travelling across the continent.

In order that individual rail companies can plan for the future in the best possible way, leading rail experts from across Europe have come together led by the UIC’s Coordinator Europe, Simon Fletcher, to publish a shared strategy, known as Rail Technical Strategy Europe.

The strategy builds on the high level vision that was published in the Challenge 2050 document of 2013 and is designed to complement and support national strategies, and so provides the common ground for railways across Europe to grow together and provide an attractive service to the customer. It sends a really strong message that the systems that are so important to efficient operation and service provision must all look to pull in the same direction and that innovation and technology programmes must be structured so that they are striving for common goals.

This is a groundbreaking document, partly because it shows how much common ground there is in terms of the shared vision of railway companies across Europe, but also because it helps the rail operating community to demonstrate what its business needs are in a really confident way. It shows we are commercially attractive and ready to meet the challenge of business for the decades ahead.

The RTSE can be downloaded here :

PDF - 1.6 Mb
Rail Technical Strategy Europe

 The UIC Europe team

Jean-Pierre Loubinoux
Director General
Regional Coordinator, Europe
Relations with members and statutory meetings

 Partner web links

CER www.cer.be
EIM www.eimrail.org
CTG Coordination Technical Group www.ctgrail.eu

GRB Group of Representative Bodies
UNIFE www.unife.org
UITP www.uitp.org
UIP www.uiprail.org

CEN CEN European Committee for Standardization Controls - CENELEC CENELEC European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation www.cen.eu; www.cenelec.eu
ERRAC www.errac.org
UIRR UIRR International Union of combined Road-Rail transport companies www.uirr.com

We hope you find this web page useful. Do not hesitate to get back to us with your remarks.

Attached documents

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List of European Members as of 1st January 2014
PDF - 61.9 kb
Updated Internal Regulation 7/12/2011
  • RESTRAIL Mid-Term Conference