The European Commission has published a call for expressions of interest to become an associated member of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking, the new public-private partnership that will invest just under €1 billion in research and innovation (2014-2020), to get more passengers and freight onto Europe’s railways.
The aim of the call is to identify the core partners who will work hand in hand with the Commission and the eight founding members of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking to deliver new technologies that will help to increase the quality, reliability and punctuality of rail services while also slashing their costs and facilitating cross-border travel. It complements the Commission’s proposals to improve the quality of rail services via market opening and improvements to technical interoperability and approval under the 4th Railway Package (see IP/13/65).
The founding members of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking are rail equipment manufacturers Alstom, Ansaldo STS, Bombardier, Siemens, Thales and CAF, as well as infrastructure managers Trafikverket and Network Rail, who have already confirmed that they will each make a contribution of at least €30 million to the Shift2Rail initiative (total €270 million).
The Joint Undertaking is now seeking to attract additional members from across Europe (as well as countries associated to the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme1) that would be ready to commit, altogether, to a contribution of at least €200 million, with a view to achieving the ambitious objectives set out in the draft Shift2Rail strategic Master Plan, which was approved by the Governing Board of the Joint Undertaking on 24 September 2014 and will be submitted to the Council for endorsement. This forward-looking document identifies key priority research and innovation activities with a view to achieving the Single European Railway Area. At the same time, it aims to radically enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness of the European railway system and help the European rail industry to retain and consolidate its leadership on the global market. It is organised around five key “Innovation Programmes”: cost-efficient and reliable trains and high capacity infrastructure, advanced traffic management and control systems as well as IT Solutions for Attractive Railway Services and Technologies for Sustainable and Attractive European Freight.
The quality of proposals and their relevance to the objectives set out in the draft Shift2Rail strategic Master Plan will be the fundamental criteria for selection of associated members. In addition, the Commission hopes to achieve, within the membership of the Joint Undertaking, a good geographical balance, as well as balanced participation of SMEs, of the research community and of actors from the entire rail value chain, including from outside the traditional rail sector.
Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, EU Commissioner for mobility and transport, said: “Shift2Rail is a unique opportunity to develop strategic technologies and solutions that will radically improve the quality of EU rail transport for passengers and freight customers. Such innovations are vital in complementing the Commission’s work on the 4th Railway Package. At the same time, Shift2Rail will help to strengthen the competitiveness of European businesses and retain Europe’s leadership in the global rail market.”
Interested candidates have until 12 November to submit their applications. The Commission foresees that the final selection of associated members should be known in early 2015.
The Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (‘S2R JU’) was officially established on 7 July 2014 following the adoption by the Council of Regulation (EU) N°642-2014 establishing the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking on 16 June 2014 (see IP/14/796).
Set-up activities are well underway with a view to making the S2R JU operational by early 2015. In particular, a first formal meeting of the S2R JU Governing Board was held on 30 July and the next one will take place on 15 October. The recruitment of staff has begun and the vacancy notice for the Executive Director was published with a view to the successful candidate taking up functions towards the second quarter of 2015. In the meantime, the Commission has nominated a Commission official to act as interim Executive Director in accordance with Article 19 of the S2R Regulation.