Information published on 14 January 2014 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 381.

Innovating European Research

  • Research

With the recent publication of both the 1st call of “Horizon 2020” on 11 December and the draft regulatory text for the Shift²Rail initiative on 18 December, the European rail operating community (ROC) is preparing for the start of an exceptionally exciting period. The first half of this year will be one that sees the launch of a whole range of innovation initiatives that lead towards a truly attractive future rail system.
Horizon 2020 is the new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation that covers a wide range of technical and engineering fields amongst which mobility and rail.

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.


Part of the Horizon 2020 programme will be the establishment of the Joint Undertaking known as Shift²Rail.
This will encompass research, innovation and demonstration activities in all aspects of the rail system, amounting to some €800 million, co-financed by the EU with the other investment coming from the sector under the seven year lifespan of the initiative. The European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) will be involved in the initiative.

Shift²Rail, when the strucuture is fully and corrctly in place, will be an unprecedented joint effort by the European rail sector and the European Union to create a step change in rail technology in order to meet three major targets: enhancing the capacity of the European rail system to cope with increased user demand, increasing the reliability and quality of rail services, and significantly reducing the life cycle cost of the overall system.

It is of course highly important that all ROC stakeholders are able to play as much a role as possible in this venture. The UIC has offered to facilitate the involvement of a wide range of member companies through the establishment of the College which is now focussing on how it will become an Associate member of Shift²Rail.
This College is currently formed of some 16 companies but there is plenty of room for many, many more to get onboard, collaborate to innovate, share the cost and gain from the outcomes from the wide range of development that will emerge from the Shift²Rail work programme.

This is the start of a series of short updates that will be featured in the pages of E-News as the development of Shift²Rail emerges.

If you any questions about the initiative or the College that is being set up, then get in touch Regional Coordinator, Simon Fletcher ( who will be able to provide you with the latest situation.

If you would like to read the European Commission’s Press Release on SHIFT²RAIL, then please click on:

To read the Commission’s draft legislative proposal, you can click on: