Monday 25 November 2013

Research at UIC is organised within different STRUCTURES

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The UIC Research Unit provides support to all UIC bodies and working groups dealing with technological development and research, related transversal topics such as safety, security, expertise development, energy and environment.

As a fundamental value of UIC, research and innovation ensure the necessary coherent system approach. They also support the improvement of the overall performance of the railway system and ensure its full interoperability.

The major role of UIC in serving the worldwide railway community is to develop technical expertise, documents and projects.

This has been done through the 700 leaflets used daily by railway stakeholders. This is also done year after year through the programme of projects which is prepared and decided by members. One of the major breakthroughs that UIC can also bring to the railway community is to develop projects on research matters, and for this reason, in recent years we have answered a number of European Commission project calls under the 5th, 6th and 7th framework programmes.

These proposals are prepared by the Research Coordination Group (RCG) and through ERRAC’s work. We have seen with great pleasure that a growing number of projects for which UIC has proposed its coordination or monitoring is now a reality and this is giving UIC even more credibility in its development as a technical platform and needs to be increased. This is evidently also a very important added value through the funding that is received by the European Commission on these specific projects.

At the same time this development at world level is now also trying to become a reality through the International Rail Research Board (IRRB) and through specific peer review contracts which are requested by a number of members and institutions. This adjustment ties in with the need to be even more professional with regard to the management of projects and answers one of the expectations of our members expressed at the latest statutory meetings.

This is part of the answer which was debated at the Regional and General Assemblies of December 2012 to give UIC an even stronger and bigger input in the development of its technical expertise with outside funding.

Jean-Pierre Loubinoux says that “

Through this new External Funding Unit (EFU) we hope that we will grow in this direction”

Research is organised in any structure that UIC wishes to bring together so that Members can be involved

  • at world level


The International Rail Research Board involves all major stakeholders at global level in joint activities in the field of research and development. It serves both UIC members and several main scientific and research centres, and institutions in the field of rail transport around the world. This working group provides all its members with a unique platform in order to exchange on important common research themes, with a view to better exploring research potential worldwide.


Every two years, the World Congress on Rail Research (WCRR) brings together hundreds of participants for a week of presentations and workshops to discuss the last developments in railway research and innovation.
For this new edition to be launched in Australia, the theme will be: “Keeping ahead of the curve through the sharing of knowledge”.

  • within the 5 UIC regions


Concerning the UIC African region, the study on “Revitalising railways in Africa – destination 2040”, which will be presented in January 2014 in Morocco, focuses on the need for investment and innovation. This document is a launch pad for developing this aspect of Research and Development within Africa, to help serve all the members of the region.


In Asia-Pacific, railway research is essentially based on the work of the IRRB, with work reinitiated in 2009.
CARS (China), KRRI (Korea) and RTRI (Japan) are the region’s main members involved in the research work. These three members constitute a formalised research group which holds meetings relatively frequently. In addition the Asian-Pacific Regional Assembly (APRA) recently entrusted CARS and KRRI with research topics for members of the region on high speed, training, heavy hauls, driver’s cabs adapted to Asian size, etc. Let us not forget VNIIZhT which is a key player in research in “1520 world” and many new univeristies which will act as research institutes in the region. And finally the newcomer Australasian Railway Association (ARA) which represents the Australian continent.



ERRAC was set up in 2001 with the ambitious goal of creating a single European body with both the competence and capability to foster increased innovation and guiding research efforts at European level. As the Joint Technology Platform for rail, ERRAC brings together all major rail stakeholders involved in European rail research and innovation developments. ERRAC comprises representatives from all the major European rail 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.


The Research Coordination Group (RCG) was set up by UIC with the aim to support its European members in their efforts to prioritise and coordinate their research and innovation activities. In particular RCG aims at identifying common research topics for project initiation and submission with partners to respond to calls from the European Commission in its different Framework Programme. RCG also serves to coordinate efforts in defending the position of common strategic operators in research and innovation projects resulting in technological harmonisation and standardisation.

"CHALLENGE 2050" & preparation of technical appendices

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 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 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:

  • Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER)
  • European Freight and Logistics Leaders Forum (F&L)
  • European Infrastructure Managers (EIM)
  • European Passengers’ Federation (EPF)
  • European Passenger Train and Traction Operating Lessors’ Association (EPTTOLA)
  • European Rail Freight Association (ERFA)
  • European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC)
  • European Shippers’ Council (ESC)
  • International Association of Public Transport (UITP)
  • International Union of Private Wagon Owners (UIP)
  • International Union of Railways (UIC)
  • The Association of the European Rail Industry (UNIFE)

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.

Electronic copies can be obtained at:
For further information please contact Simon Fletcher:


According to guidelines included in the Strategic Action Plan for the Middle-East, UIC Members for this region focus their developments and research efforts on building new infrastructures and improving the quality and capacity of existing lines, introducing high speed technology and modern operations systems for passenger and freight, optimising safety and sustainability of transport. Corresponding training programmes are planned by the MERTCe, the Rail Training Centre for the Middle-East.


The strategic priorities for the Latin American region in terms of railway developments and research will be part of UIC’s Strategy for Latin America which are currently being defined.


The trends and priorities for rail transportation developments and for Rail Research in the USA are set by the guidelines from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the rail industry.
The Transportation Technology Center, Inc (TTCI), carries out intensive research and development programs in all fields of railway activity under the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Both the FRA in U.S Department of Transportation and AAR are UIC Members representing North America.

Please visit the FRA and AAR websites: and

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