Activity: Research & Innovation

Research & Innovation should respond to the needs of the customers

In order to achieve a Single European Area, the rail sector has to be more innovative and open-minded towards solutions that support not only technology improvement, but also innovative approaches to operations, maintenance and logistic services.  This requires both, a short-term and a long-term vision, strategic planning and delivery in order to address existing challenges and barriers in our daily business.  Therefore, research activities at EU level are to support:

  • Ambitious goals to achieve interoperability and maintain safety levels around Europe
  • Stronger role of the railways as a more active mode in a multimodal transport
  • Increasing demand for the rail sector to perform better and achieve a more competitive and efficient transport for passengers and freight.

Research Activities for the rail freight sector are supported by  the current Horizon 2020  EU framework Programme and Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking.

Within the Horizon 2020, the Rail related activities are supported under Specific Programme “Smart, Green and Intelligent Transport”.  The EC will hold an INFO Day on December 13, 2017 with the objective to explain the scope of projects that will be covered for the 2018-2020 period and offer tips for application submission.

(Source: UIP)

The Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (S2R JU) was established under HORIZON 2020and under Regulation (EU) No 642/2014  as a new public-private partnership in the rail sector to provide a platform for coordinating research activities with a view to drive innovation in the sector for the years to come.  It consists of Founding Members and Associated Members.  The Founding Members of the JU are the European Commission plus eight players from the rail sector: Alstom, Ansaldo STS, Bombardier, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), Siemens and Thales, Network Rail and Trafikverket. In December 2015, 19 associated members joined the initiative (see JU members for more details).

The Shift2Rail JU manages the entire budget of at least €920 million for the period 2014-2020 for rail only research. Under the co-financing structure, the EU’s commitment amounts to a maximum of €450 million, while the rail sector Members contribution is around €470 million.  With that in mind, there are wo types of calls:

  • Founding Members(CFM) calls reserved for Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking members (incl. associated members),
  • Open calls  (OC)available to companies, universities, research institutes and others who are not Shift2Rail members
  • For Freight Activities under Innovation Programme 5, the allocated co-financing budget is €1,5 million.
  • There is also a Cross-Cutting Activity (CCA) on Smart Maintenance and Human Capital with co-financing budget of €700 000.

Topics under the different calls relating to rail freight/rail freight wagons on keepers are as follows:


(source: Shift2Raill, adapted by UIP)
Significance to UIP and our members

It is important for our members to be in the know on the latest innovation that shapes the future of the railways and freight transport.  As investors in rolling stock, the Keepers are best positioned to provide guidelines, and define requirements when it comes to smart and innovative wagons.

UIP is a member of the European Rail Research Council (ERRAC) which is the European Technology Platform for Rail where strategies on research and development are defined by the railway sector.

UIP is also a member of the Users Group of Innovation Programme 5 (IP5) of Shift2Rail, whose role is to provide recommendations, present its needs and define requirements for innovation in freight transport and rail freight vehicles.

As a representative body UIP acts as a coordinator and facilitator for its members to become involved and participate in projects related to noise, optimisation of rolling stock, and rail freight performance in general. Together with other Associations and industry companies, UIP has most recently had to consider the future role of ERRAC not only in the governance structure of Shift2Rail, but also in extending its scope to issues related to new policy priorities under Climate, Energy, and Digitalisation.


Shift2Rail Press release - S2R awards first grants - June 2016
Shift2Rail Masterplan - March 2015
Shift2Rail Factsheet - July 2014
Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking – Frequently Asked Questions - December 2013



Last update: October 2017
Tagged under Research & Innovation