SHIFT2RAIL is the first European rail initiative to seek focused research and innovation (R&I) and market-driven solutions by accelerating the integration of new and advanced technologies into innovative rail product solutions. Shift2Rail promotes the competitiveness of the European rail industry and meets changing EU transport needs. R&I carried out under this Horizon 2020 initiative develops the necessary technology to complete the Single European Railway Area (SERA). Moreover, Shift2Rail has ambitious targets and a robust framework in which to meet them. Specifically, the initiative aims to double the capacity of the European rail system and increase its reliability and service quality by 50%, all while halving life-cycle costs.
The proposed initiative helps to boost the rail supply industry’s competitive edge, introducing new market perspectives and offering significant employment and export opportunities.
The world leadership of the European railway manufacturing industry is being challenged by new market entrants, especially those from Asia offering attractive products at low acquisition costs. The best response to this competitive challenge is through innovation to improve product quality and reliability from day one by reducing life-cycle costs, combined with a railway system approach. Public and private investment in Shift2Rail also have a multiplier effect on the industry investment required to bring such products to the marketplace, and on expanding market opportunities for European industry, both in Europe and overseas. It also helps to overcome some of the present EU rail market shortcomings, namely fragmentation of production, insufficient collaboration and partnership across the rail industry, differing operating procedures among rail users, limited standardization and low efficiency levels.
Railway undertakings, infrastructure managers and public transport operators also benefit from innovations that drastically reduce infrastructure and operating costs. This also helps to cut down on subsidies paid out by national governments — estimated at between EUR 36 billion and EUR 38 billion in Europe in 2012.
Passengers and freight service users will benefit from a step change in the reliability and quality of services. Improved competitiveness and attractiveness of rail services, combined with increased capacity, will help rail take on an increased share of transport demand, thereby contributing to the reduction of traffic congestion and CO2 emissions. Citizens’ health and well-being will also benefit, thanks to reduced noise pollution from rail.