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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Land & marine transport projects > Commission welcomes Strategic Rail Research Agenda
Graphic element Commission welcomes Strategic Rail Research Agenda

The European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) presented its comprehensive Strategic Rail Research Agenda (SRRA) to Commissioner Philippe Busquin on 18 December 2002 in Brussels, identifying key scientific and technological priorities for both passenger and freight rail transport over the next 20 years.


Commissioner Busquin receives SRRA
Commissioner Busquin receives SRRA
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In just over a year, ERRAC has successfully put together a long-term plan for rail research and technological development. Speaking at the official SRRA presentation, ERRAC Chairman Philippe Renard said, “We thank the European Union for the support it has given us over the past year, but our work has only just begun. We have completed work on our Strategic Rail Research Agenda and now we must work towards realising its goals.”

Busquin praises co-operation

Speaking to an audience that included representatives from ERRAC, the rail industry and members of the press, Busquin said, “Seeing the SRRA realised in such a short time gives me a real sense of satisfaction. First, because so many key players in the railway sector have never come together in such a way before – you are truly contributing to the construction of the European Research Area (ERA) . And secondly because with this new SRRA you have shown a clear determination to support the new transport policy laid out in the White Paper on Transport . Community support for research in the field of transport, and rail transport in particular, is nothing new. Now, with the launch of the Sixth Framework Programme the Commission has made a qualitative jump in its support for and organisation of research in Europe, aiming to improve synergies between European, national, public and private research.”

Asked what the take-home message should be, Commissioner Busquin told the Growth website, “Do you know the old Charles Aznavour song, La mamma? ‘Ils sont venus, Ils sont tous là’ – they came, they are all here. That’s what ERRAC and the SRRA are all about. All of the stakeholders are here today – the rail industry, the research community, operators and policy-makers, all working together. They have all come!”

…and for good reason. According to the Commission, rail transport in Europe covered 290 billion passenger-kilometres and shifted 241 billion tonne-kilometres of freight in 1998. European rail companies employ 1 million workers, while the European rail manufacturing industry, supplying vehicles, engines, spare parts and so on, provides 130 000 jobs. European rail supply industries hold an impressive 60% of the global rail export market.

ERRAC for easier, safer, cleaner transport

Launched in November 2001 at the fifth World Congress on Railway Research in Cologne, the ERRAC comprises some 39 members, representing Member States, the Commission and all the relevant stakeholders, balanced with regard to nationalities. ERRAC’s primary mission has been to establish and carrying forward its SRRA, intended to serve as a guide in the planning of research programmes, particularly national and EU programmes.

The new SRRA addresses challenges such as better service quality, intelligent mobility, enhanced productivity and interoperability . It describes a rail sector able to handle twice its current freight and passenger market share and three times the current freight and passenger volume by 2020.

The overriding goal of the SRRA is to provide seamless, integrated high-speed passenger and freight rail services, as well as efficient public transport. More specifically, it identifies a range of customer priorities, including modular interoperable rolling stock, intelligent mobility, fully interoperable rail infrastructure, and a European rail system that is environmentally friendly and sustainable. Concrete deliverables are to include:

  • improving the average speed of rail transport, reducing door-to-door transit time by up to 50%;
  • reducing the average cost per passenger/km or tonne/km by 50%;
  • reducing freight train noise by 10 decibels; and
  • reducing fatalities by 50%, ensuring that rail remains the safest transport mode.

The SRRA will be updated in response to changing market demands, social conditions, and research results, and while still in its infancy, it has already been endorsed by several EU Member States, the European Commission, rail operators and suppliers, user groups, research institutes and academia – a first for the industry.

The EU and rail research

Rail research has been a key priority for successive EU Research Framework Programmes. More than 40 research projects are currently under way, in areas such as sustainability, intermodality and critical rail technologies, with EU support amounting to more than €150 million. These projects bring together over 200 partners from the public and private sectors, including every leading European rail company.

Examples include the EU Drivers’ Desk project which is developing a common driver desk for use across Europe, improving the human-machine interface and fostering interoperability, and the SAFETRAIN project which will significantly increase the chances of survival of both passengers and staff in serious collisions.

FP6 is now

Under FP6, the Commission is setting a new and ambitious agenda for rail research, in line with ERA priorities and philosophy. The first Call for Proposals , launched on 17 December 2002, identifies key research areas:

Three Integrated Projects will focus on:

  • the modular train concept;
  • enhancing infrastructure capacity;
  • improved vehicles.

A Network of Excellence will cover the establishment of a “Virtual centre for rail technology and knowledge management”, further enhancing the knowledge base within this critical technologically oriented sector, addressing systems, compliance and training issues.

Busquin praises
ERRAC for easier, safer, cleaner transport
The EU and rail research
FP6 is now

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