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EUROPE: The Europe’s Rail joint undertaking which is being established under the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme has formally assumed responsibility for railway research, succeeding the Shift2Rail joint undertaking which has led the sector for the past five years.

The regulation establishing Europe’s Rail and nine other research partnerships was adopted by the Council of the EU on November 19 and came into force on November 30. A formal launch is envisaged in early 2022 under the French Presidency of the EU.

The seven-year programme is expected to deliver R&D activities totalling €1·2bn, funded equally by the EU and its 25 founding members who are expected to be confirmed before the first governing board meeting on December 21. As with S2R, other participants will be selected through open calls.

The transition from S2R to ERJU will be led by Executive Director Carlo Borghini, who told a UIC symposium in Paris on November 30 that a key priority would be to focus on integrated systems thinking, with a dedicated System Pillar.

Core objectives include delivering a high capacity integrated European railway network, eliminating barriers to interoperability, and encouraging faster uptake and deployment of new technologies.

Noting that the transition takes place in the European Year of Rail 2021, the European Commission’s Director-General for Mobility & Transport, Henrik Hololei, said ‘Europe’s Rail partnership will continue the significant work on innovative solutions achieved through Shift2Rail and address rail’s other challenges to realise its full potential. We count on this partnership to support our efforts in making rail smarter, more resilient and more flexible and increase the attractiveness of the sector.’

‘The commitment and tangible results delivered by the members and other beneficiaries of Shift2Rail are recognised today in the launch of the new partnership’, explained Borghini. ‘Building upon the results of Shift2Rail, it is now the time to start moving to action to deliver impact for European citizens.’

Welcoming the new JU on behalf of the European Rail Research Advisory Council, Chair Roland Moser said ERRAC would work with the Commision ‘to make this transition happen’.