Brussels, 07 June 2002
The European rail research advisory council (ERRAC) has announced a strategic rail research agenda for 2020, which recommends using innovative technology to double the rail freight and passenger market share and to treble rail freight and passenger traffic volume.
Entitled 'A turning point for European rail research', the research agenda foresees four areas of action: increasing the capacity of railways, making railways more competitive vis-à-vis other modes of transport, improving railways' environmental and safety records and encouraging the transfer of know-how from other sectors.
'Rail has to radically change and make its market share grow,' said ERRAC's Chairman Philippe Renard at the 'Surface transport technologies for sustainable development' conference in Valencia on 4 June.
He added that ERRAC's task is not to develop recommendations for implementation, so that the strategic rail research agenda does not remain 'just a paper'. ERRAC also needs to define which research needs should be addressed jointly or individually, and which by the public or private sector. Finally, ERRAC must address when the research priorities should be implemented, said Mr Renard.
The paper recommends improving the capacity of railways through investments in infrastructure, technological advancements, improved network integration and interoperability. For this to be achieved, critical technologies need to be developed in the areas of railway interoperability, intelligent mobility, safety and security, environment, materials and production methods.
ERRAC estimates that 1.25 billion euro has been invested each year in innovating the railways in recent years, but calls for a considerable increase in investment from the rail sector, the EU and the Member States.
In order to make railways more competitive with regard to other modes of transport, ERRAC highlights the importance of raising quality through enhanced factor productivity, improved information flows within the whole supply chain, punctuality and the use of intelligent mobility systems.
Technological resources will be needed to tackle further issues such as noise reduction, energy consumption, the reduction of risk and accidents and improved security, states the research agenda. And in order to make the system work effectively, the industry will need to encourage the transfer of knowledge from other sectors, whilst coming up with innovative methods to improve the system.
For further information on ERRAC, please consult the following web address: http://www.unife.org/workgroups/errac_1 .asp