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Press release

Towards a Common European Railways Research Strategy:
EU Commission Launches
European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC)


Brussels, 26 November 2001

Key words: ERRAC, rail research, sustainable transport, mobility, ERA


At the opening of the World Congress on Railway Research in Cologne on 26 November, Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin launched the new European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC). The Council brings together manufacturers, railway and infrastructure operators, public and private research centres and users in a joint commitment to define and implement a strategic rail research agenda for Europe.

Said Philippe Busquin: "The European Commission is pushing for a rebalancing of transport in favour of rail. Technological innovation is a key component of Europe's policy to revitalise rail. The development of the high-speed train shows that Europe has the engineering potential and a competitive industry. We now need to get better organised and maximise our resources and strengths from the public and private sectors. The set-up of ERRAC is a concrete example of what the European Research Area is all about."

The World Congress on Railway Research is the main research event of the global railway industry, gathering over 1000 participants. Intervening along Philippe Busquin were Uwe Thomas, Secretary of State for Education and Research, Hartmut Mehdorn, Chairman of Deutsche Bahn AG, and Roland Heinisch, Chairman of WCCR and of DB Netz AG.


ERRAC is a joint initiative by all stakeholders from the European rail sector, European institutions, Member States, transport users, and generally all parties concerned by rail transport. It comprises high-level decision makers of Member States, the European Commission, the manufacturing industry, operators, and infrastructure managers; but also research establishments and academia, environmental and urban planning organisations, and transport users groups. The aim is to develop a common strategy for European rail research in order to speed up the emergence of a single European railway system. The partners of ERRAC have made a long-term commitment to make railways an attractive, affordable, clean, safe, competitive and reliable mode of transport on a European scale.

In this perspective, ERRAC's primary mission is to establish and carry forward a strategic research agenda, setting research goals for the next two decades and guiding all European stakeholders in the planning and coordination of research efforts. Its key objectives will be to:

  • respond to the objectives fixed by the European Commission's White Paper on transport policy, which is to achieve a better balance between modes of transportation by revitalising rail transport,
  • strengthen the leadership of the European rail industry - one of the most innovative and competitive industrial sectors in Europe, a strong net exporter, and a provider of crucial services to the economy and the citizens,
  • maximise synergies between European, national and private rail research - thus materialising the concept of the "European Research Area" in this field,
  • improve response to society's needs and users' demands,
  • reinforce the evolution towards generalised sustainable transport across the continent,
  • provide concrete answers in a number of crucial areas - efficiency and interoperability, limitation of noise and pollutants, increase of infrastructure capacity, rail safety, innovation and industrial competitiveness in the e-economy.


Community research plays, and will increasingly play, a key role in the development of safe, efficient, user-friendly railway transport in Europe. The aim is to reinforce the competitiveness of the rail industry, its usefulness to individual users and its positive impact on all sectors of the economy who increasingly use rail as their choice mode of transportation. In parallel, research contributes to ensure sustainable development, by enabling more environment- friendly and energy-efficient modes of transportation.

Rail research has been a priority of successive Community Framework programmes. More than forty research projects are currently underway in areas such as sustainable mobility, intermodality, and critical rail technologies. These projects gather more than 200 partners from the public and private sectors, including all leading industry players. Community participation amounts to more than EUR 150 millions.

Examples include the SILENT FREIGHT project, which aims at reducing noise level of trains by 10 decibels, while keeping down manufacturing costs, and the SAFETRAIN project which has significantly increased the resistance of passenger compartments and the survival space of train operators.

Beyond the Framework programme, the European Research Area is setting a new and ambitious agenda for rail research. The aim is to maximise synergies between European, national and private-sector research, network existing centres of excellence in rail research, foster innovative public/private partnerships around large scale, long term integrated projects. This implies fostering the mobility of researchers and optimising the use of research infrastructures, improving coordination of national research (all too often duplicated in the rail sector), reinforcing consensus and common vision between industry partners, and ensuring the full participation of industrial and individual users of European railways.


Notes for editors:

Further information on ERRAC and on Community research activities in the rail sector, please contact:
Jean-Yves Calvez, Scientific Officer, DG Research, European Commission
Tel: +32.2.2962921

Further information related to the event, please contact:
Patrick Vittet-Philippe, Press and Information Officer, DG Research, European Commission
Tel: +32.2.296 9056

Media contact phone on the day of the event:
GSM: +32. 477 274663 (mobile phone)


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