EUROPE: The first three railway research and development projects to be funded from the European Union's Horizon 2020 programme were officially launched in Brussels on May 7.
Selected by the European Commission following the first 'Mobility for Growth' call for proposals, the so-called lighthouse projects are intended to bridge the gap between the previous round of FP7 research and the Shift2Rail programme. With a combined value of €52m, Roll2Rail, IT2Rail and In2Rail are being funded from the European Union's €450m contribution to Shift2Rail. The three lighthouse projects will transition into Shift2Rail in mid-2016, when the joint undertaking is fully operational.
- Roll2Rail aims to develop key technologies and overcome hurdles to innovation in rolling stock development, leading to a series of Technology Demonstrators and feeding into Shift2Rail Innovation Programme 1;
- IT2Rail will address the use of digital technology to create a 'seamless travel experience' across different modes, including information, journey planning and ticketing. This will feed into Innovation Programme 4;
- In2Rail will cover research into resilient and cost-effective infrastructure, looking holistically at track and structures, smart energy management and advanced traffic management systems to optimise the use of capacity. This will feed into Innovation Programmes 2 and 3.
Roll2Rail and IT2Rail will be co-ordinated by UNIFE, while Network Rail will lead In2Rail. UNIFE Director General Philippe Citroën said the launch of the lighthouse projects was 'a major milestone', and 'the first of many stepping stones' on the way to achieving the EU's ambitious transport and competitiveness goals.
Including a plenary session and separate meetings for the three projects, the kick-off event on May 7 brought together around 200 participants from across the rail sector, including operators, infrastructure managers, suppliers and academia. Leading speakers included Keir Fitch – Head of Unit, Research & Innovative Transport Systems at DG Move, European Railway Agency Executive Director Josef Doppelbauer and Interim Director of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking Christos Economou.