Brussels, 28 February 2002
The European rail research advisory council (ERRAC) is making good progress on defining and implementing a strategic rail research agenda for Europe, the group's chairman Philippe Renard told CORDIS News.
Speaking after ERRAC's second plenary meeting, in Brussels on February, Mr Renard said that although this is just the beginning (ERRAC was formed in November 2001), the group is progressing because the Commission is putting a lot of pressure on them, which Mr Renard regards as a good thing.
'We are working in two directions,' Mr Renard told CORDIS News, 'a global vision, what rail can mean in 20 years time, and what must be done for this to happen,' he said. Initial discussions will be translated into concrete fields of research, he added.
This is the first time that so many stakeholders in the railways have come together in order to work together towards a common goal. Mr Renard was positive about the creation of such a group. He was pleased that the Commission, for the first time, turned to the stakeholders and said 'we need you', he said. Mr Renard also remains optimistic that their work will make a real difference.
Mr Renard praised the rich diversity of ERRAC, which includes representatives from industry, academia, national ministries, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Many sections of the Commission are also represented in ERRAC, namely the Enterprise, Energy and Transport, Environment and Research DGs.
Despite the undeniable difference in interests between some of ERRAC's members, participants are having no difficulty in agreeing on common objectives, Mr Renard told CORDIS News.
'We are together in each of the programmes, in FP5, in FP6 (Fifth and Sixth Framework programmes), but it is not enough to be together in individual projects, we are defining a strategic vision,' said ERRAC's chairman.
Five priority themes have already been defined: interoperability, intelligent mobility, safety, the environment and innovative materials. Mr Renard is however aware that there is much work to do, particularly in order to meet the deadline of 4 June, when the first draft of the strategic research agenda will be presented at the Commission event 'Surface transport technologies for sustainable development' in Valencia, Spain.
For further information on ERRAC, please consult the following web address: http://www.unife.org/research.htm