The ERRAC plenary was held in the premises of the Shift2Rail JU in Brussels on 21 March 2019. The meeting was attended by more than 80 participants representing most of the main European operators, manufacturers and academia in the railway sector.
ERRAC is a research platform composed of representatives from each of 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.
As a member of ERRAC, UIC represents the interests of the Rail Operating Community in the establishment of research and innovation priorities of the European rail sector, in close collaboration with all the stakeholders of the platform. Through its commitment in ERRAC, UIC defends the position of its European members in the definition of the rail R&I policy at the European level, especially in the establishment of a Strategic Rail Research and Innovation Agenda and technology roadmaps. Finally, as ERRAC is the principal contact regarding rail research and innovation at the European level, UIC supports, through the platform, the dialogue between the Rail Operating Community and the European Commission to identify needs and find solutions to implement the Single European Railway Area.
UIC also supports the activities of the platform with an active role in the secretariat of the platform together with the European manufacturing industry (UNIFE).
The ERRAC plenary offered an excellent opportunity to present the Shift2Rail funded project TER4RAIL, whose objective is to strengthen cooperation between the different agents with the aim of improving the efficiency of research in the railway sector, facilitating the development of innovative ideas and promoting the exchange of knowledge from other disciplines, in order to develop disruptive and innovative ideas and technologies for the railways.
The meeting ended with a panel session organised by TER4RAIL partners and moderated by the Chairman of ERRAC, Mr Alberto Parrondo. This round table was composed of Mr Mark Gaddes (Network Rail), Mr Henk Samson (Strukton Rail), Mr Clive Roberts (University of Birmingham), Mr Christophe Chéron (SNCF) and Mr Michael Pellot (TMB, metro and bus operator in Barcelona – Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona), representing the different stakeholders of the railway sector. It was an excellent opportunity to discuss the challenge of Innovation and R&D in the rail sector to make the railway sector the backbone of mobility in Europe.
The invited experts discussed the collaboration within rail stakeholders and more widely about the transport and non-rail sectors, sharing challenges that each of the represented entities were facing. A second part of the panel undertook the analysis of the most promising technologies to transform the rail sector in the coming decades, where the different actors expressed their views on Artificial Intelligence or Digitalisation, amongst other technologies.