European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC)

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European Technology Platforms (ETPs) are industry-led stakeholders that develop short to long-term research and innovation agendas and roadmaps for action at EU and national level to be supported by both private and public funding. ERRAC was set up in 2001 with the ambitious goal of creating a single European body with both the competence and capability to help revitalise the European rail sector and make it more competitive, by fostering increased innovation and guiding research efforts at European level.

The European Railway Technology Platform

ERRAC gathers over 45 representatives from the entire rail sector, including railway undertakings, infrastructure managers, manufacturers, the European Commission, the European Union Agency for Railways, EU member states, academics and users’ groups. This enables broad coverage of all forms of rail transport, from conventional, high-speed and freight applications to urban and regional services.

ERRAC’s primary objective is to deliver the common railway sector vision for research and innovation to the European institutions and important stakeholders in order to contribute to the development of a favourable funding landscape for railway research and innovation, developing innovation via calls for projects and joint undertakings such as Shift2Rail.

Functioning on the basis of a rotating chairmanship between UNIFE and UIC every two years, ERRAC is currently chaired by Mr Alberto Parrondo (Thales – representing UNIFE), supported by two vice-chairs, Ms Carole Desnost (SNCF – representing UIC) and Prof. Sebastian Stichel (KTH – representing academia). ERRAC has produced a number of key documents since its foundation in 2001, including the “Joint Strategy for European Rail Research – Vision 2020”, the “Strategic Rail Research Agenda” (SRRA) and its successor document, the “FOSTER RAIL Roadmaps”. Building on these documents, it published its latest strategy document, “Rail 2050 Vision”, in December 2017.

Rail 2050 Vision

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“Rail 2050 Vision” represents the vision of the rail sector for the needs of the future railway system at the heart of seamless, sustainable and comfortable mobility in Europe. It sets out the important role that rail already plays in delivering economic and societal benefits in Europe. The railways have the opportunity to contribute much more, taking advantage of the latest technical developments. For this to happen, the document points out that research and innovation (and other supporting elements, including appropriate regulatory structures) are critical and that end-user and public support for research, development and innovation in the railways of the future is essential. The key message is that the rail sector is capable of making a significant contribution to integrated mobility solutions and of meeting expectations in terms of both passenger and freight/logistics, supporting economic growth, social cohesion and competitive markets by facilitating mobility. Putting customers first, collaboration with other transport modes will be the key to delivery of this ambitious vision as part of an overall transport solution.

UIC as part of ERRAC

As a key member of ERRAC, UIC represents the interests of the railway operating community to establish research and innovation priorities for the European rail sector. Common ROC positions are usually prepared within the Research and Innovation Coordination Group (RICG) and contribute to ERRAC positions in close collaboration with all platform stakeholders.

Through its involvement in ERRAC, UIC promotes the business and research needs of its European members in the definition of railway research and innovation policy at European level. European policy is then translated into the “Strategic Rail Research and Innovation Agenda” and technology roadmaps. The cross-modal “Strategic Transport Research and Innovation Agenda” (STRIA) – first released in 2017 and currently under revision – is the latest development.

Finally, as ERRAC is the principal point of contact in relation to rail research and innovation at European level, UIC supports dialogue between the railway operating community and the European Commission through the platform to identify needs and solutions for implementation of the Single European Railway Area.

UIC also supports the activities of the platform, playing an active role in the secretariat of the platform together with the European manufacturing industry (UNIFE). With the change in ERRAC chairmanship in 2018, Mr Martin Brennan, Head of Research and Innovation at UIC, took up the role of Secretary to ERRAC, with UNIFE filling the role of Vice-Secretary.

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