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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Land & marine transport projects > Commission to launch new Advisory Council on European Rail Research in Cologne
Graphic element Commission to launch new Advisory Council on European Rail Research in Cologne

On 14 May 2001, European rail organisations presented a document to Commissioner Busquin entitled 'Joint strategy for European rail research 2020 - Towards a single European railway system'. Among its recommendations was the establishment of ERRAC, the European Rail Research Advisory Council, aimed at developing and implementing a strategic approach that will influence and guide European stakeholders in the planning of research programmes. The new group is now set to start its work on 26 November 2001, on the occasion of the World Congress on Railway Research in Cologne..

Rail transport plays and will continue to play a central role in the building of Europe and in its enlargement, providing solutions to the joint challenges of strengthening competitiveness and ensuring sustainable development while responding to societal needs. In its White Paper of September 2001, entitled 'European transport policy for 2010: time to decide' , the Commission called for a shifting of the balance between modes of transport, citing a "failure to exploit the full potential of rail" while increasing road and air transport creates ever worsening congestion.

By all accounts, achieving this shift toward rail transport is going to require a number of important technical advances, but, as Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said in a statement delivered to the European Convention on Rail Freight in Brussels on 22 November 2001, "Today, rail research in Europe suffers from a lack of cohesion among the different actors in this sector, as well as a lack of a long-term vision and a common strategy for establishing an integrated single European rail system." It was with these goals in mind that the ERRAC was conceived.

ERRAC: membership and mission

ERRAC is a joint initiative made up of European rail sector stakeholders and will include around 37 high-profile members representing European institutions, Member States, users and other parties interested in rail transport. Its main goal will be to develop a common Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) in order to speed up the emergence of a single unified European rail system. To this end, its activities will include:

  • the launching, approval and updating of the SRA;

  • evaluating the SRA for Member States, the Commission and other stakeholders;

  • recommending measures for optimising the use of existing research infrastructures and achieving cost-effective investments;

  • recommending improvements in education policy with the aim of encouraging young people to work as rail scientists and engineers;

  • developing and implementing a communications strategy for promoting awareness of the SRA and for disseminating information on rail research.
The Strategic Research Agenda

The SRA represents the plan for materialising the vision set out in the 'Joint Strategy for European Rail Research 2020'. Those goals were to make railways an attractive, affordable, competitive and efficient mode of transport. The response to issues of public interest was also a key element of the '2020 Vision', including pollution reduction, elimination of travel delays, and safety.

The SRA will not be a detailed research work programme, but will consist of a statement of research priorities, including recommendations for the implementation of both public and private research programmes and the identification of the necessary steps and timing. It will also determine to what extent existing plans and programmes remain valid. While the SRA will no doubt strongly influence research at different levels, the various players will continue to have different roles. The ERRAC will therefore have to take these different roles into account in its development of the SRA, recognising the complementary and co-operative nature of rail research in the European Research Area (ERA).

ERRAC: membership and mission
The Strategic Research Agenda

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