Today in Brussels the European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) presented a comprehensive Strategic Rail Research Agenda (SRRA), which identifies key scientific and technological priorities for both passenger and freight rail transport over the next 20 years.
ERRAC was created one year ago in Cologne, initiated by European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. It is the first time that a long-term plan for rail research and technological development has been jointly devised and endorsed by all interested parties. The Strategic Agenda addresses challenges such as better service quality, intelligent mobility, enhanced productivity and interoperability. By 2020 the rail sector should be handling twice the present freight and passenger market share and three times the current freight and passenger volume.
“There will be no sustainable transport in Europe without a safe and efficient railway system,” said Commissioner Busquin. “To build modern railways, we need modern regulation but also better and stronger research investment in the sector. For the first time in European history, the rail industry and research community are developing a truly European strategic rail research agenda. If all players co-ordinate efforts in a forward-looking technological platform for rail, we can ensure a better future for rail in Europe and for European rail in the world. This is what I mean by a modern industrial policy in the knowledge-based society.”
Each research area selected in the SRRA has been evaluated and its contribution to the competitiveness of rail transport has been concretely assessed. ERRAC members agreed on precise, quantified objectives for rail transport in 2020. In particular, these include obtaining a 15% share of the freight transport market and 12% share of the passenger market. This implies trebling the number of passengers and the volume of goods carried by rail over the next twenty years. To meet this goal, the SRRA is directly supporting key European Union transport policy objectives such as re-balancing the transport modes in favour of rail and creating a single railway market.
Teamwork in research pays off
ERRAC and its SRRA are concrete examples of what the European Research Area (ERA) is all about - focusing on significant policy areas where co-operation at European level is needed to eliminate the adverse effects of fragmented research efforts. The SRRA will stimulate co-ordination in the rail sector, helping it to avoid unproductive duplication. ERRAC will capitalise on its ability to bring together all concerned players, rail operators, manufacturers, infrastructure operators, national and European public authorities, but also users and consumers associations, and environmental organisations.
Co-ordinating research programmes at all levels - European, national, public and private - accompanies the implementation phase of the Strategic Agenda. While it is still in an early phase, the SRRA has already been endorsed by several EU Member States, the European Commission, rail operators and suppliers, user groups, research institutes and academia – a first for the industry.
The role of EU research
Rail research has been a key priority of successive EU Research Framework Programmes. More than 40 research projects are currently underway, in areas such as sustainability, intermodality and critical rail technologies. These projects bring together more than 200 partners from the public and private sectors, including all leading businesses in this sector. EU support amounts to more than €150 million.
Examples include the EU Drivers’ Desk project, which is developing a common driver desk for use across Europe, improving the human-machine interface and fostering interoperability, and the SAFETRAIN project which has significantly increased the chances of survival of both passengers and staff in serious collisions.
Within the 6th EU Research Framework Programme (FP6 2003-2006), the Commission is setting a new and ambitious agenda for rail research, in line with ERA priorities and philosophy, which will ultimately help the implementation of the SRRA. A budget of around €250 million has been pencilled-in for railway research. Final allocation of funds to rail research will depend on the excellence of the proposals the Commission receives.
The aim is to maximise synergies between European, national and private-sector research, network existing centres of excellence in rail research, foster innovative public/private partnerships around large-scale, long-term collaborative projects. This implies greater mobility of researchers and optimisation of research infrastructures, improving co-ordination of national research (all too often duplicated in the rail sector), reinforcing consensus and common vision between industry partners and ensuring the full participation of industrial and individual users of European railways.
The 1st call of the 6th Framework Programme, launched on 17th December 2002, identifies four key project areas, which follow up the activities of ERRAC and the Strategic Rail Research Agenda.
Three Integrated Projects will focus on:
A Network of Excellence will cover the establishment of a “Virtual centre for rail technology and knowledge management”, further enhancing the knowledge base within this critical technologically oriented sector, addressing systems, compliance and training issues.
Fabio Fabbi | Europäische Union
Study sets new distance record for medical drone transport
13.09.2017 | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Researchers 'count cars' -- literally -- to find a better way to control heavy traffic
10.08.2017 | Florida Atlantic University
Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
26.09.2017 | Life Sciences
26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.09.2017 | Life Sciences