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Today’s railway sector is facing major challenges, including increasing the competitiveness and attractiveness of rail transport in terms of speed, availability, comfort, punctuality and reliability. According to ERRAC (European Rail Research Advisory Council), this means maintaining and improving environmental performance, increasing capacity, enhancing infrastructure and improving value for money to achieve a sustainable economic profile vis-à-vis the other transport modes.

ERRAC’s long-term vision for the sector is laid out in the Strategic Rail Research Agenda (SRRA). First published in 2002, the SRRA posits the goal of doubling passenger volume and tripling freight by 2020 compared to 2000. Other goals include improved interoperability, better environmental and safety performance and new production methods.

ERRAC has been directly involved in the elaboration of the transport segment of FP7, providing crucial guidance on research priorities in the rail transport sector. ERRAC is now focused on the elaboration of a new SRRA, the ‘Rail 21 Vision’, which will fill gaps in the original SRRA and update its objectives.