The Shift2Rail Initiative

It has long been recognised that rail transport is vastly more energy efficient than modes of road transport. Ironically, at a time when in many parts of the world as questions of road congestion and energy efficiency have become major concerns investment in rail transport has declined.

In Europe, at least, this trend has not gone unnoticed and the Shift2Rail initiative is the first of its kind to seek focused research and innovation (R&I) and market-driven solutions to the question of rail transportation by accelerating the integration of new and advanced technologies into innovative rail product solutions.

Shift2Rail will promote the competitiveness of the European rail industry and will meet changing EU transport needs. The initiative falls under the Horizon 2020 initiative and the R&I carried out will develop the necessary technology to complete the Single European Railway Area (SERA).

The EU Commission has promoted a modal shift from road to rail in order to achieve a more competitive and resource-efficient European transport system. However, the share of rail in the European freight and passenger transport markets is still not satisfactory. EU research and innovation (R&I) must therefore help rail play a new, broader role in global transport markets, both by addressing pressing short-term problems that drain rail business operations, and by helping the sector to gain a stronger market position.

Shift2Rail will impact all segments of the rail market: high-speed/mainline, regional, urban/metro & suburban, and freight; it will also make daily life easier for millions of European passengers and rail freight users. It 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.

Photo credit: Material used in the preparation of this article has been drawn from


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