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With the contribution of the LIFE programme of the European Union - LIFE14 ENV/GR/000611

SHIFT²RAIL Joint Undertaking Initiative

What is SHIFT²RAIL Joint Undertaking Initiative?

SHIFT²RAIL will be 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 will promote the competitiveness of the European Rail Industry and will meet the changing EU transport needs. Through the R&I carried out within this Horizon2020 initiative, the necessary technology will be created to complete the Single European Railway Area (SERA).


In addition to the above, SHIFT²RAIL has set ambitious targets and a robust framework in which to meet them.  Specifically, the initiative aims to double the capacity of the European rail system, increase its reliability and service quality by 50%, all while halving the lifecycle costs.​









What are the challenges?
Rising traffic demand, congestion, security of energy supply and climate change are some of the major issues that the European Union and the wider world are facing. Tackling these challenges will require the railway sector taking on a larger share of transport demand in the next few decades.

The European Commission is working towards the creation of a Single European Railway Area and 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 on the European freight and passenger transport markets is still not satisfactory. EU research and innovation 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 achieve a stronger market position.

What results and benefits do we expect?
SHIFT²RAIL  will foster the introduction of better trains to the market (more comfortable, quieter and more reliable, etc.), operating on innovative rail network infrastructure in a reliable way from the first day of service introduction, at a lower life cycle cost, with more capacity to cope with growing passenger and freight mobility demand. All this will be developed by European companies thereby increasing their competitiveness on the global marketplace.

SHIFT²RAIL will also contribute to the paradigm for modal shift to attract the users to rail.  For the EU passenger this will mean more travel options, more comfort, and improved punctuality. For the freight forwarder/shippers this will mean that rail freight will become more cost effective, punctual and traceable as a shipment option.

SHIFT²RAIL will contribute to:

  • Cutting the life-cycle cost of railway transport (i.e. costs of building, operating, maintaining and renewing infrastructure and rolling stock) by as much as 50%

  • Doubling railway capacity

  • Increasing reliability and punctuality by as much as 50%


SHIFT²RAIL will impact all segments of the rail market: High Speed/Mainline, Regional, Urban/Metro & Suburban, and Freight and make daily life easier for millions of European passengers and rail freight users.


Impact in the Sector
The proposed initiative will help boost the competitive edge of the rail supply industry, opening new market perspectives and offering significant employment and export opportunities. Railway undertakings, infrastructure managers and public transport operators will also benefit from innovations that drastically reduce infrastructure and operating costs. This should also help to reduce the subsidies paid out by national governments – estimated at €36-38 billion in Europe in 2012.





The LIFE GYM [LIFE14 ENV/GR/000611] project is co-funded by the LIFE programme, the EU financial instrument for the environment.


The sole responsibility for the content of this report lies with the authors. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union. Neither the EASME nor the European Commission are responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.


Start Date: 15 September 2015 – Duration: 35 months

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