30 June 2021
ERRAC is a research platform composed of representatives from each of the major European railway research stakeholders: manufacturers, operators, infrastructure managers, the European Commission, EU Member States, academics and user groups. ERRAC covers all forms of rail transport: from conventional, high speed and freight applications to urban and regional services.
More than 70 participants representing the main European operators, manufacturers and academia in the railway sector met remotely on 30 June 2021 for the ERRAC Plenary meeting.
Keir Fitch, Head of Unit, Rail Safety & Interoperability at the European Commission, opened the meeting by presenting an overview of the Horizon Europe Work Programme for Rail. Concerning the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking’s (S2R JU) successor programme, the Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking (ERJU), he underlined that its scope and objectives had been widely accepted by the Council of the European Union, in particular the System Pillar, and that activity would be underway soon.
Carlo Borghini, Executive Director of the S2R JU, provided information concerning his organisation’s ongoing activities, pending calls and forthcoming dissemination actions, such the Connecting Europe Express in support of the European Year of Rail, Hack2Railand the Shift2Rail Innovation days.
Carlo Borghini also invited ERRAC stakeholders to join Shift2Rail at major rail events planned for 2022, namely WCRR, TRA and INNOTRANS. He also provided updates on the transition from Shift2Rail to Europe’s Rail JU that would happen before the end of the year. Finally, the Executive Director highlighted the opportunities available for rail under the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2021.
Wouter IJzermans, Executive Director of the Batteries European Partnership Association presented BATT4EU, an EU partnership that would boost a competitive, sustainable and circular European battery value chain to be established by 2030, as well as boosting Europe’s competitive role in the global battery innovation area. Carlo Borghini highlighted the common interests shared by this initiative and S2R JU.
At the end of their three-year mandate, all ERRAC members warmly thanked Chair Alberto Parrondo, Vice President Strategy, Ground Transportation Systems at Thales Group; Vice-Chair Carole Desnost, Director of Research and Innovation at SNCF; and Secretary Martin Brennan, Head of Research and Innovation at UIC, for their commitment to advancing rail innovation.
The ERRAC stakeholders enthusiastically endorsed the nomination of the new Chair, Roland Moser. After 20 years at Alstom, he is now the Head of Technology Office at the Swiss Railways (SBB). At the Plenary, he thanked ERRAC stakeholders for their confidence in his leadership and promised to serve as an honest broker for ERRAC stakeholders. He also stated that he sees ERRAC as the guardian of the rail message and his obligation in this new role is to fully contribute to delivering the message of its stakeholders as a means of helping to revitalise the European railway sector. He concluded by sharing some of his priorities for the chairship over the coming years:
- As not all innovative concepts developed in the Rail Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), published in December 2020, could be addressed by the S2R JU, all ERRAC stakeholders could play a complementary role to the ERJU
- ERRAC should strengthen its position and influence the System Pillar of ERJU, with the SRIA as its foundation.
- ERRAC needed strong ties with similar partnerships, like the European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC), to define common ground on digitisation for all things mobile, which would strengthen rail’s position in this process.
- Small regional lines needed the attention of ERRAC.
The assembly also welcomed Juergen Schlaht, from Siemens Mobility, and Sebastian Stichel from KTH, as Co-Vice-Chairs and UNIFE’s David Kupfer as ERRAC Secretary.
Juergen Schlaht commented: “As ERRAC Vice-Chair, I will contribute to achieving ERRAC’s vision of “railways as the backbone of future sustainable, safe and seamless multi-modal mobility”. In both pandemic and post-pandemic times, for passenger and freight, railways can do much more than today!”
Sebastian Stichel added: “My vision is that ERRAC will work on re-establishing rail as the backbone of the European transport system. As chair of the Academia group, I will try to further enhance the contribution of the academic community to ERRAC.”
Alberto Parrondo concluded the meeting by thanking all the members who had helped him navigate the sector’s challenges during his time in office. He welcomed the fact that rail now enjoyed the full support of the EU as the most efficient and environmentally friendly mode of transport. He expressed optimism as he saw rail attracting more and more interest, from every corner. He concluded by inviting all participants to attend the final event of the Shift2Rail project: FLEX-RAIL.