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European Rail Research Network of Excellence

The mission of EURNEX – the European Rail Research Network of Excellence – is to create a European network of rail research institutes as world-class players to support the railway sector and assist the members of the EU to operate an interoperable and competitive rail system across the continent. EURNEX involves more than 600 researchers from over 60 rail research institutes across Europe.

Tags: Rail


The future rail systems are both a component of the door-to-door chain of trans-European and high-speed passenger transport, as well as a valuable alternative to the car in congested areas. With the White Paper, European transport policy for 2010: time to decide, the European Commission aims to increase the safety standards and the degree of interoperability, and to reduce environment pollution.

The European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) has set a goal of doubling rail passenger traffic and tripling rail freight transport throughout Europe in twenty years, starting in 2000. But the European railway landscape is, due to historic developments, a very fragmented one: it is still a patchwork of disparate systems and networks, each applying technical and operating standards evolved over the last 180 years. This wide range of different rail systems in Europe presents a huge challenge to achieve pan-European interoperability. To achieve the ambitious goals, the competitiveness of the rail system must be considerably improved, with support of innovative products and services. The synchronisation of rail systems in Europe needs harmonised research applications and facilities, but the pre-EURNEX European research landscape was also a very fragmented one.


The strategic objectives of EURNEX are:

  • to integrate the fragmented European rail research landscape by combining research activities in a network of mutually shared facilities, tools and platforms
  • to promote the railway contribution to a sustainable transport policy
  • to improve the competitiveness and economic stability of the railway sector and industry, e.g. with flexibility, regarding the new challenges for rail research in a shared process
  • to achieve a self-standing and long-lasting business package for the network beyond the granting period, thus creating a durable, integrated network of excellence in rail research, technology innovation and knowledge management from the research capacities of universities and institutions, implementing knowledge from rail operators and the rail industry including SMEs.
EURNEX integrates 66 research institutes throughout Europe
EURNEX integrates 66 research institutes throughout Europe

Description of work

An important first achievement of the EURNEX integration process was the establishment of a members’ family concept in a thematic oriented network substructure, based on ten poles clustering the excellent scientific institutions for specific rail research areas:

Strategy and Economics, Operation and Systems Performance, Rolling Stock, Product Qualification Methods, Intelligent Mobility, Safety and Security, Environment and Energy Efficiency, Infrastructure and Signalling, Human Factors and Training and Education.

Some of the benefits to members are:

  • improving own strengths by the development of specialised EURNEX poles, and new and trusting international co-operation with complementary research partners
  • improving the efficiency of research facilities by enhanced opportunities for common use
  • strengthening the interaction with customers to learn more about the business-driven needs for current and future rail research
  • profiting from EURNEX corporate services provided to its members.

The customer-orientation of EURNEX is the essential key factor for its long-term durability. A developing sustainable business has to build on the trusting relationship between the researchers organised in the network and the rail sector’s demand for scientific services.

The performance of the EURNEX network therefore has to attract the supply industry and the operators by providing added-value research towards the state of the art in Europe by:

  • establishing coherent and integrated knowledge and innovation services for the rail stakeholders
  • a new organisation of future excellent rail research, including improving on the existing scientific strengths
  • thematic orientation towards the ERRAC SRRA 2020 key priorities: creating poles of excellence in a way so as to efficiently respond on these priority areas
  • trusting co-operation of EURNEX members has to result in synergies to enhance the quality of research further and ‘time-to-result’
  • schemes for education and training, developed by the EURNEX virtual university EURail, have to meet the future requirements of the stakeholders on an international level.

The challenge for EURNEX is achieving a win-win situation for the different players involved by meeting these objectives within the EU granting period. Therefore the development and implementation of a sound business case is of the utmost importance for the EURNEX success.


EURNEX is a new and unique approach to organise the whole rail research domain towards excellence and efficiency. It is particularly distinguished by:

  • customer orientation: the international associations UIC, UNIFE, UITP are project partners; rail sector representatives form the advisory board
  • the trusting partnership aiming at specialisation and intensive collaboration within the poles of excellence and multidisciplinary co-operation across the poles
  • the virtual European Rail University, EURail, providing training and education for the next academic generation, as well as experienced professionals
  • the knowledge management system as an internal co-operation tool, showcase and unique knowledge library for the rail sector
  • the business package to ensure a durable and sustainable EURNEX network, including a value-added service provision within EURNEX.
EURNEX 2nd Integration Conference: Establishment of EURNEX poles of excellence, 2-3 March in Berlin
EURNEX 2nd Integration Conference: Establishment of EURNEX poles of excellence, 2-3 March in Berlin
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