EUROPE: Late May saw the launch of an interactive forum on the Near 2050 project website aimed at enabling rail users, operators and specifying organisations to comment on their experience of the sector and predict how the rail mode might evolve over the next 35 years.

Near2050 is being co-ordinated under the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking by a consortium made up of IITF, a research body affiliated to Technische Universität Graz, consultancy Railistics and Universidad de Cantabria.

The 18-month research project began in October last year, and to date a series of workshops, focus groups and interviews have been undertaken with various actors within the rail sector, including reginal and inter-city operators, freight operators, funding bodies and infrastructure managers. During these sessions, the researchers have extracted ‘influencing factors’ which will be aligned into a series of macro-level trends.

A particular focus of the research will look at the interplay between rail use and the road sector. In particular, the research team will evaluate how the rail industry may need to adapt to a possible decline in private car usage.

The Near 2050 project team is encouraging the rail sector to respond to its survey.