Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking (EU-Rail) is established by Council Regulation (EU) 2021/2085 of 19 November 2021. It is the new European partnership on rail research and innovation established under the Horizon Europe programme (2020-2027) and the universal successor of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking.
The vision of EU-Rail is to deliver, via an integrated system approach, a high capacity, flexible, multi-modal and reliable integrated European railway network by eliminating barriers to interoperability and providing solutions for full integration, for European citizens and cargo.
This partnership aims to accelerate research and development in innovative technologies and operational solutions. This will support the fulfilment of European Union policies and objectives relevant for the railway sector and the competitiveness of the rail sector and the European rail supply industry. In this way, EU-Rail will accelerate the penetration of integrated, interoperable and standardised technological innovations necessary to support the Single European Railway Area (SERA).
EU-Rail will provide technological and operational solutions to lead the transformation of the rail sector, working towards the twin green and digital transition of Europe.
The European Green Deal objective is to reach climate neutrality by 2050, the Fit for 55 package sets medium-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction objectives, and the Digital Decade sets the path to bring Europe to the forefront of digitalisation and automation.
The Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy articulates the pathways towards digitalising and greening the transport sector and sets specific milestones for the railway sector. The Industrial Strategy aims at enhancing Europe’s industrial competitiveness, including in sectors at the forefront of the green and digital transitions such as the rail supply industry.
These Union policy goals are a major reason for the railway sector to undergo a significant transformation – increasing its capacity for passenger and goods transport, enabling an increase in the use of rail transport, and reducing further the greenhouse gas emissions of the railway sector itself. To achieve this change, the sector must address different challenges such as the change in customer requirements, the need for improved performance and capacity, climate change, or the increase of competition.
The delivery of the objectives will contribute towards addressing the identified challenges of rail and is expected to impact the rail sector in different ways.
EU-Rail will support the delivery of much more flexible approaches to planning and traffic management of rail services. Through the development of cutting edge technologies designed to be implemented across the whole EU rail network, EU-Rail will help increase capacity and support smart and cost-efficient rail connectivity, key to future sustainable mobility systems
EU-Rail outputs are expected to help improve the efficiency of the rail system and reduce overall lifecycle costs, including on less used lines. This will be achieved while contributing to a more sustainable transport and mobility system.
Increasing the R&I intensity of the European rail supply industry will enhance its capacity to retain its global leadership. EU-Rail will support the sector in coordinating on a common evolution of the system, and a greater harmonisation to support the delivery of the Single European Rail Area.