On Thursday 21 May the development of the Shift²Rail programme took another step forward.
That is the day by which those companies and consortia that had already successfully passed the first stage for Associate membership, were required to submit their detailed project proposals for the second stage.
The EUROC consortium of 14 UIC member companies was amongst this group of candidates and it was with considerable delight and not a little relief that their submission was sent to the Shift²Rail team for consideration.
From now on there will some further steps to achieve for any of the candidate associate members and these include:
a. The finalisation of membership to the S²R JU:
- Evaluation of 2nd stage applications by independent experts (June-July 2015)
- Invitation of pre-selected candidates to negotiations on their draft membership agreements (July-October 2015)
b. The award of the first grants for carrying out projects.
As S²R is being governed within the Horizon 2020 framework, funded activities can only start once there has been a call or an invitation to submit proposals issued by the JU, followed by an evaluation of proposals by independent experts. Therefore the next steps (and indicative planning) are:
- Final decision of the Commission on the membership structure and signature of membership agreements with all members (November-December 2015)
- Invitation to all members (founding and associated) to submit proposals for the first projects (November-December 2015)
- Evaluation of the proposals (February-March 2016)
- Award of first grants and launch of first projects (spring 2016)
It can therefore be seen that there are still a number of significant steps to be taken before S²R can really and truly be regarded as being live and fully active.
The EUROC consortium, recognising the significant number of steps that are required and further recognising that they would greatly benefit from the support, advice and facilitation of a well-experienced project management organisation, have asked UIC to formally act on their behalf. A contract that covers the period up to and including all the steps identified above, was signed by the EUROC Consortium Leader, José Carlos Clemente (REFER) and Jean-Pierre Loubinoux (Director General, UIC) to cover the provision of a range of support services. This will enable EUROC to present itself and the ideas that the partners have for the S²R work programme in a really professional manner and ensure that the EUROC consortium is managed efficiently and effectively.
Speaking on behalf of the EUROC partners Mr Clemente said “I am delighted that UIC is able to help us in this manner. It is important to us that these services are provided under a separate contract as it right and proper that only those companies in EUROC are paying for these services. There is still a long way to go in this adventure and I am confident that the UIC team we have working with the EUROC partners will ensure that we arrive at the end of the journey in a really strong position”.
Jean-Pierre Loubinoux said that “Ever since the first time the Shift²Rail idea was first mentioned to us in 2011, we have indicated the added value that a properly constructed research and innovation programme can bring to the development of the future European railway system and the business model of the ROC. We are of course delighted to be able to support the EUROC partners in this way and we must thank the UIC team that has enabled this position to be reached.”
Readers of eNews will be able to keep up to date with Shift²Rail progress as the programme develops over the coming months.