Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Rail supply industry

Rail supply industry

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Cartoon graphic of a train.

The rail supply industry (RSI) is a crucial component of European industrial growth, jobs and innovation.

RSI includes:

  • the manufacture of locomotives and rolling stock
  • tracks
  • electrification
  • signalling and telecommunication equipment
  • parts
  • services

Both SMEs and major industrial leaders are active in the sector. European RSI invests 2.7% of its annual turnover in R&D and represents 46% of the world RSI market.

RSI employs about 400,000 people in Europe. The railway sector overall – including operators and infrastructure – accounts for more than 1 million direct and 1.2 million indirect jobs in the EU.

Competitiveness of the rail supply industry

The Commission launched a forum (expert group on the competitiveness of the EU rail supply industry) to analyse the main challenges facing the sector. This initiative followed both the June 2016 European Parliament resolution on the competitiveness of European RSI and the Commission's response. 6 meetings took place in 2018 and 2019.

The forum is an official Commission expert group in line with the decision on rules for Commission expert groups.

In October 2019, the EU expert group endorsed a report with several recommendations to maintain the global leadership of the rail supply industry. The recommendations envisage additional measures while ensuring synergies with the policy measures already in place to meet the current challenges of the rail supply industry. 

They cover 10 policy areas, including digitalisation, innovation, skills and training, internal market, standardisation, EU public procurement, EU supporting mechanisms, access to markets and finance for SMEs, access to international procurement market and intellectual property rights. The recommendations address the entire rail sector, EU countries, the European Commission, European standardisation organisations and EU bodies.

Relevant information

To monitor the competitiveness of the European RSI, the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and SMEs commissioned independent studies. The latest study (2019) analyses the European RSI's positioning in the world market and the main economic factors such as turnover, employment, investment and more. The study also includes an analysis of future trends and opportunities. It also provides an overview of the decisive factors influencing the European RSI's competitiveness, such as its capability to innovate and to adapt to changes.

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