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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research themes > Land & marine transports > ERRAC - European Rail Research Advisory Council
Graphic element ERRAC - European Rail Research Advisory Council
    04-07-2002
 
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“Rail transport plays a central role in the building and enlargement of Europe, providing crucial answers to the twin challenges of strengthening European competitiveness while responding to citizens’ needs.”

- ERRAC Chairman Philippe Renard

ERRAC – a fresh start for European rail research
 

On 14 May 2001, European rail organisations presented a document entitled ‘A Joint Research Strategy for European Rail Research – Towards a single European Railway System’ to the European Commission. Among its recommendations was the development of a long-standing commitment by all stakeholders, including rail manufacturers, operators, infrastructure managers, public authorities and researchers, to work in closer partnership in order to organise and strengthen rail research and development efforts in Europe. The new undertaking, under the aegis of a European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) would work to optimise rail research potential within the Union, realising the goal of a European Research Area in this important industrial sector.

 
Membership and mission
 

Launched in November 2001 at the fifth World Congress on Railway Research in Cologne, the ERRAC comprises some thirty-odd members, representing Member States, the Commission and all of the relevant stakeholders, balanced with regard to nationalities. ERRAC is currently meeting several times a year, with the primary mission of establishing and carrying forward a Strategic Rail Research Agenda (SRRA) that will serve as a guide in the planning of research programmes, particularly national and EU programmes.

ERRAC at work
ERRAC at work

ERRAC activities will include:

  • the development, approval and updating of the SRRA;
  • evaluation of the results and benefits of the SRRA for Member States, the Commission and stakeholders;
  • recommending measures for the optimal use of existing infrastructures and for achieving cost-effective research infrastructure investment;
  • advising on educational policies for attracting young people into science and engineering, to develop the skills needed in the rail sector;
  • the implementation of a communications strategy for promoting awareness of the SRRA and for disseminating information on research.
 
The Strategic Rail Research Agenda
 

The SRRA represents the plan for meeting the rail industry’s goals for the next two decades. Those goals are to strengthen the leadership of the European rail industry, to maximise synergies between national and private rail research, to better respond to society’s needs and to work in support of a sustainable transport system across the continent. Addressing specific issues of public interest will also be a key element, including improving efficiency and interoperability, reducing noise and pollution, increasing network capacity and increasing safety.

The SRRA 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 SRRA 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 SRRA, recognising the complementary and co-operative nature of rail research in the European Research Area (ERA).

 
Philippe Renard: Like never before
 

ERRAC Chairman Philippe Renard
ERRAC Chairman Philippe Renard

Head of Research of the French National Railroad Company (SNCF) and now Chairman of ERRAC, Philippe Renard is a leading European figure in the world of rail research. “ERRAC is a long-term initiative,” he says. “If we really mean to develop the high quality, efficient, safe and clean rail system we are aiming for, we are going to need all of the important players in the sector to commit themselves to a common rail research strategy. Part of my mandate as ERRAC Chairman is to establish the right climate for getting people together and the conditions for fostering a real and lasting spirit of collaboration.

“The rail transport sector is facing a number of difficult challenges today. Meeting the needs and demands of society is going to require a concerted effort, like nothing the industry has ever seen before. Within the next 20 years we expect to reduce pollution, including noise pollution, by one half, reduce energy consumption and reduce the number of fatal accidents. With the directive on rail interoperability taking effect, we are now moving towards a unified European rail network, while at the same time, over the medium term, we have to revitalise and maintain major elements of existing infrastructure. All of this is to be accompanied by a projected two-fold increase in passenger traffic and a tripling of freight traffic. One thing is clear; none of our goals will be attainable without joint research and technological development between European partners, including all of the European countries, the national authorities, the European authorities, right down to the train users themselves.

“We have seen many astounding changes in the post-war period. Who could have imagined back then the things we were to accomplish with new technologies – the Channel Tunnel, the high-speed train links? Now, as we look ahead, as we bring our best minds together to work and to innovate like never before, all I can say is just imagine, just imagine!”

For more information on ERRAC, contact:

Mr. Christos Tokamanis
European Commission
Research Directorate General
Tel: + 32 2 295 9565
E-mail: christos.tokamanis@ec.europa.eu

Ms. Lara Isasa
UNIFE
Tel: + 32 2 626 1262
E-mail: lara.isasa@unife.org

 
ERRAC – a fresh start for European rail research
Membership and mission
The Strategic Rail Research Agenda
Philippe Renard: Like never before
   
     

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