Vision document

Technical strategy

Standardisation strategy

ERRAC Rail 2050 Vision

EU railway sector declaration

RAIL Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda


UIC Europe Chair

Luigi Ferraris
CEO FS Italiane

Martin Frobisher
Group Safety & Engineering Director Network Rail

The UIC Europe team

François Davenne
Director general
Sandra Gehenot
Director Europe
Karine Van Ceunebroeck
Senior advisor, institutional relations & coordination Europe
Ismérie Colussi Corte
Regional Development Assistant, Europe

UIC Europe Members map

Europe members

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UIC Europe

Region Europe

The UIC European region comprises 118-member companies from 39 countries (including Israel, Russia and Turkey) and amounting to some 350,000 kilometres of rail network.

This has evolved over the years as a result of excellent cooperation between the railway operators to the point where there are many services that operate across the operating boundaries of member companies thereby forming a European rail network.

In the context of the work that is being undertaken within the European region, we speak of the railway operating community (ROC). This term is how, generically, the railway undertakings and infrastructure managers are gathered together to form the ROC.

The objective is to promote a competitive, sustainable and attractive railway transport system serving more than 500 million citizens across Europe.

The Regional Assembly Europe

The Regional Assembly Europe (RAE) is made up of 56 active member companies, 30 associate member companies and 32 affiliate member companies.

It works according to the Terms of Reference adopted in 2019.

Comprised of members’ representatives the RAE is the decision-making body for the region, agreeing on strategic guidelines and trends, endorsing agreements with European entities and supporting the general European Working Programme for the upcoming year. The RAE is supported by the European Group of Assistants (EGoA), preparing its decisions and strategic plan of actions.

Region Europe elects a chairman and a vice-chairman for a 2-year mandate.

The European region is piloted by a management committee (EMC) composed of 17 members which has regular meetings. The EMC, elected by the RAE for a mandate of two years, drafts strategic decisions for RAE and considers all matters of interest to the European region. The EMC is assisted by the European Management Committee Assistants (EMCA) in their duties.

The regional strategy and associated challenges

The UIC is managing a wide range of projects for technological and operational development that fit into all kinds of fields and which cover all the core technical domains that make up the rail system.

The region’s programme of work is based on a couple of core documents in the context of the EC Innovation programmes (Horizon 2020 and Shift²Rail and the forthcoming Horizon Europe from 2021). These documents have been feeding one another to achieve a consistent sector vision for railways which is promoted into actual innovation:

The Railway Technical Strategy Europe (RTSE)

The work on the publication of the revised Railway Technical Strategy for 2021 is ongoing, according to the trends and new reality that have been identified.


- Challenge 2050 – The three pillars

Challenge 2050 was the European railway sector’s shared perception of where the railway system could be in 2050 and identified the many goals that are complementary to the vision in support of a rail system that is responsive to the needs of Europe’s citizens. It was built around the 3 pillars of policy, technology and services all combining to ensure that the railway system of 2050 is one that is attractive to the end user and that rail is the customer’s preferred land transport mode of choice.

Developed and published by the UIC in 2013 on behalf of the sector, Challenge 2050 was endorsed by the major rail stakeholders.

- The Rail Technical Strategy Europe (RTSE) 2013

The following year (2014), the first Rail Technical Strategy Europe (RTSE) was published. Using Challenge 2050 as a catapult, it built on that high-level vision and was designed by the UIC editorial team to provide the common ground for the railway operating community (ROC) across Europe to grow together and to collaboratively put mobility by railway as an attractive offer of first choice for the end-user. It sent a really strong message that the systems, being so important to efficient operation and service provision, must all pull in the same direction and that innovation and technology programmes (including Shift2Rail) need to be structured so that they are striving for common goals with the customer at the core.

- The Railway Technical Strategy Europe (RTSE) 2019

With the rapidly changing mobility market and the railway operating community (ROC) being integral to this, the stakeholders in the European region decided in 2018 that there was a need to bring the messages up to date so that they reflect today’s challenges and opportunities. The Railway Technical Strategy Europe 2019 is the result of this decision. Merging Challenge 2050 and the previous RTSE into a single document, RTSE 2019 delivers a comprehensive set of objectives. It captures some of the trends that have emerged in the mobility market and in transport-related technology since earlier publications and describes how railways fit into the modern mobility framework and the ways in which the ROC needs to drive railway transportation forward.

With a focus on nine key component parts of the railway system, RTSE 2019 describes the goals to be achieved as if the reader is already standing in 2050 and that the objectives are a reality. It highlights the outcomes of the achieved situation and lists the relevant enablers that will pave the way toward realisation. Last but not least, this document sets out a number of recommendations to deliver this technical agenda how it will support the creation of the Future European Railway System.

RTSE 2019 has been produced in a collaborative manner, using many inputs and key messages from existing documents like the ERRAC Rail 2050 Vision and the 12 Capabilities produced by the UIC’s Research and Innovation Coordination Group (RICG), and with contributions from the main railway stakeholders woven together into the existing version by the UIC’s European team.

Research – ERRAC 2020 Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA)

With the railway being an essential part of the European landscape, culture and way of living, on 7th December 2020 ERRAC (European Rail Research Advisory Council) today launched its Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) which sets out to the European Commission how the railway sector sees the role of research and innovation in delivering the vibrant, efficient, and customer-friendly railway of the future. It describes nine ’Transforming Projects’ required within a programme of research to maximise the railway contribution to meeting Europe’s mobility needs.

The SRIA builds on ERRAC’s vision of railways as the backbone of Europe’s sustainable mobility system by 2050 and within this, the priorities it already identified for the decade to 2030: Rail 2030 vision and Rail 2050 vision.

The SRIA has been developed to help the European Commission put in place the successor to ’Shift2Rail’ the Joint Undertaking that is the principal funding mechanism for collaborative railway research in Europe. A draft Regulation to establish ’Europe’s Rail’, the proposed new Rail European Partnership, will be considered by the Council and Parliament.

Innovation for Europe’s railways will be focused on digitalisation and automation, bringing cost savings and better services for passengers and freight customers. It will also serve to protect the natural environment, building on the existing credentials of the railways as the most environmentally friendly form of mass land transport.

The SRIA has benefited from many expert inputs, technical and non-technical, from right across the sector and beyond, and from that of academia, and from a wide open consultation amongst the sector with more than a thousand ideas for change to the original draft having been taken into account.

In launching the document, ERRAC Chairman Alberto Parrondo said "railways have to accommodate a further increase in mobility, have to become more attractive to our citizens, need to be more flexible and interrelate more with other transport modes. In order to meet these constraints, research and innovation is the way to transform the railway system and make it more attractive, comfortable and affordable".

Click here to download your copy of the SRIA.

The ERRAC “Rail 2050 Vision”

ERRAC (the European Rail Research Advisory Council) was set up in 2001 with the goal of creating a single European body focussing on research. With both the competence and capability to help evolve the European rail sector and make it more competitive, it gathers all the major stakeholders of the railway sector, brought together to deliver a common vision with research priorities and coordinate their research and innovation effort.

ERRAC has previously published a number of strategic papers – the last one being the Strategic Rail Research and Innovation Agenda in 2020 – on behalf of the European railway sector. In 2017, ERRAC agreed to release a new, up-to-date vision document setting its ambitions for the next European framework programme: Horizon Europe. This document is the Rail 2050 Vision, condensing the vision of the operators, the manufacturers, end-users, academia and other stakeholders.

Rail 2050 Vision sets out the future research and innovation capabilities required by the railways to meet the future needs of Europe and provides a route to utilising the new technologies to achieve these capabilities. To deliver these capabilities and to maintain their essential contribution to Europe, the railways need continued support and investment to embrace the technological opportunities and simplified regulation to improve the cost competitiveness of the European railway sector.

Rail 2050 Vision, with its focus on research and innovation and RTSE 2019, that sets out the business aspirations of the ROC, are well-aligned documents. Together they promote the needs of the sector and promote a favourable environment for rail research and innovation. Both link the needs with the future programme that should be set out in the programme of work that will be developed and delivered by the Shift2Rail 2030 undertaking.

Background – 30 by 2030

In 2017, and with a specific focus on freight business, a high-level body of European rail freight CEOs published their vision, 30 by 2030, which highlighted what needed to be done to encourage freight to move by railway and to considerably aid the decongestion of our cities and motorways.

The target they set out is to drastically reduce the perception that heavy freight trains have a negative impact on the planet. At the core of the messages is that mobility through innovation and a more intelligent transport mix (as set out in the European Commission’s 2011 Transport White Paper) will achieve an increase of the modal share of freight carried by the railways to 30% by 2030.

Innovating for the future European rail system

The vision set by the European ROC is being transferred to innovation and operations through a number of channels. The coming years will see the launch of a whole range of initiatives that lead towards an attractive and innovative future railway system.

Horizon 2020

With a budget of €70 billion in constant prices over seven years, the current European Framework Programme, Horizon 2020, supports active research and innovation developments in a very wide range of areas to the benefit of the whole European economy. €6.993 billion are dedicated to the Transport Challenge over 2014-2020. The focus has been put on a more multimodal approach since 2016, pushing the modes to collaboratively consider solutions that would work for most with little adaptation needed. On behalf of its members, the UIC has been and is involved in a number of projects supporting the objectives of the ROC set in the RTSE and ERRAC Rail 2050 Vision:

  • BODEGA (BOrdDErGuArd) concerning the proactive enhancement of human performance in border control, including controls in train stations and trains.
  • CLUSTERS.2.0 (Logistics Clusters, H2020): working to leverage the full potential of European logistics clusters for a sustainable, efficient and fully integrated transport system.
  • SAFER-LC (Safer level crossings by integrating and optimising road-rail infrastructure management and design), aimed at improving safety and minimising risk by developing a fully integrated cross-modal set of innovative solutions and tools for the proactive management and design of level-crossing infrastructure.
  • SETRIS (Strengthening European Transport Research and Innovation Strategies) – the project objective was to deliver a cohesive and coordinated approach to research and innovation strategies for all transport modes in Europe. SETRIS identified synergies between the European and National Technology Platforms, reviewed and updated the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), benchmarked past and present research initiatives, developed implementation plans for SRIAs and contributed to the Transport Research Arena (TRA).
  • SIA (System for vehicle-infrastructure interaction assets health status monitoring), with the objective of developing four new, ready-to-use services (iWheelMon, iRailMon, iPantMon and iCatMon) to provide prognostic information on the health status of the railway’s most demanding assets in terms of maintenance costs (wheel, rail, pantograph and catenary). These new services will help to reduce the 15% of railway maintenance costs, 25% of maintenance unscheduled events and 15% of derailments associated with the rail-wheel interface.
  • SKILLFUL (Skills and competence development of future transportation professionals at all levels), reviewing existing, emerging and future knowledge and skills requirements of workers at all levels in the transport sector, proposing key specifications and components of curricula and training courses and identifying and proposing new business roles in education and training.
  • NETIRAIL (Needs-Tailored Interoperable Railway - Infrastructure), focussing on infrastructure challenges affecting the large numbers of people and large geographical proportion of Europe served by conventional rail lines. NeTIRail-Infra aims to deliver reliable, cost-effective and high-capacity infrastructure with respect to holistic management, economic rail operations and lean implementation plans.


Established in June 2014, the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (S2R JU) is the structure set up by the EU as the main artery for railways to undertake research and innovation. With a total budget of approximately €1 billion euros (just under half of which is funded by the EU) from 2014 to 2020, Shift2Rail seeks the development of focused research and innovation (R&I) and market-driven solutions by accelerating the integration of new and advanced technologies into solutions that are workable on the operational railway.

Shift2Rail promotes the competitiveness of the European rail sector and meets changing EU transport needs. Undertaken through a series of Innovation Programmes (IPs), R&I carried out under this Horizon 2020 initiative develops some of the necessary technology to further enable the achievement of the Single European Railway Area (SERA).
It has a range of topics that are developed by the funding stakeholders in the JU but also a programme of ‘open calls’ in which the UIC has been active, either directly or as an administrative support to the EUROC (EUropean Railway Operating Community) consortium:

  • CYRAIL (Cybersecurity in the railway sector) addresses the issue of cybersecurity for threats targeting railway infrastructure, developing innovative attack detection and alert techniques, adapted mitigation plans and countermeasures and protection profiles for railway control and signalling applications.
  • GoF4R (Governance of the Interoperability Framework for Rail and Intermodal Mobility) defines sustainable governance for interoperability with the aim of creating the right conditions for introduction of seamless mobility services and fostering the development of multimodal travel services. GoF4R will help to overcome obstacles currently impeding development of market innovation by fostering broad acceptance of the “semantic web for transportation.”
  • IN2TRACK (Research into enhanced tracks, switches and structures) aims at laying the foundations for a resilient, consistent, cost-efficient, high-capacity European network by delivering important building blocks that unlock the innovation potential identified as part of the Shift2Rail Innovation Programme 3 – switches and crossings, bridges, tunnels.
  • MARATHON2OPERATION – (MAke RAil The HOpe for protecting Nature 2 future OPERATION), addressing the issue of radio communication for long trains.
  • OPEUS (Modelling and strategies for the assessment and OPtimisation of Energy USage aspects of rail innovation) develops a simulation methodology and accompanying modelling tool to evaluate, improve and optimise the energy consumption of rail systems, with a particular focus on in-vehicle innovation.
  • OPTIYARD (Optimised Real-time Yard and Network Management) will provide decision support tools to yard managers with consideration of the surrounding network with a view to ensuring problem-free marshalling, essential for the overall efficiency of the transport chain.
  • ST4RT (Semantic Transformations for Rail Transportation) tackles research in semantic, ontology-based automation of transformation between heterogeneous data formats and its application to a complex “after-sales” process use case in an actual run-time demonstration scenario.
  • TER4RAIL, aimed at reinforcing cooperation between rail-related stakeholders to improve the efficiency of research in the rail sector in order to facilitate emerging innovative ideas and cross-fertilisation of knowledge from other disciplines or of disruptive technology and innovation.

The UIC European Region is also actively supporting companies in the preparation of consortia and relevant proposals to be submitted. In 2014, some 10 railway companies, members of UIC, have gathered together in a consortium of companies called EUROC (European Railway Operating Community Consortium), coordinated by UIC, and successfully applied for associate membership to Shift²Rail. They are now involved in a broad spectrum of activities across the Innovation Programmes, mostly in the infrastructure and freight areas, carrying the ROC SMEs business needs and expectations into this large programme.

Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)

Europe can also rely on the progress of the Connecting Europe Facility Transport Call, which is a is a key EU funding instrument to promote growth, jobs and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment at European level. With a budget of over €30 billion for the duration of Horizon 2020, CEF is a solid vehicle for the development of infrastructure (energy, transports, telecoms) that connects Europe and supports the implementation of the relevant innovation. Transport receives over €22 billion from the CEF fund. UIC took part in the CEF Railway Signalling system projects during its 1st calls.

The future: Horizon Europe and Shift2Rail2

The forthcoming upcoming Horizon Europe programme (2021-2027) will be an important component to enable the Railway Operating Community (ROC) to deliver its business objectives and the evolution of the fFuture European railway system.

In May 2018 the European Commission issued an ambitious proposal for a €100 billion research and innovation programme that will continue the good work performed within the Horizon 2020 programme. This will adopt a mission-oriented approach to research and innovation and be divided into a number of pillars.

The Transport cluster would be part of the second pillar “Global Challenges & Industrial Competitiveness” which has a proposed total budget of €52 billion.

The evolution of this proposal will be very closely monitored by the ROC as it has high hopes that Shift2Rail2, with a higher budget and a more inclusive approach to cover the entire Europe, will be even better adapted to delivering the aspirations of the sector in delivering the needs of the end user. Through the Research and Innovation Coordination Group (RICG), the European ROC is actively preparing itself for the new European Research Programme and potential Railway PPP.


Since its inception in 1922, the UIC has been producing standards to strengthen the technical harmonisation of railways. ‘UIC leaflets’ are widely used within the railway sector as key instruments for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the services provided to the end user. Much of the railway in current operation around the world, has been built using the standards published by the UIC.

Today, acting as a Standards Setting Organisation (SSO), the UIC continues to deliver standardised solutions for the ROC and has embarked upon an evolution of the family of documents and is now developing the International Railways Solutions (IRS). IRS will focus on all of the topics essential to the role of the ROC in safely operating the railway system.

In Europe, interoperability and the convergence of operating principles to maximise business opportunities for the ROC offers a rich landscape in term of standardisation and the UIC has an important contribution to make to the success of the creation of the Single European Railway Area (SERA).

The Technical Specifications of Interoperability (TSIs) prepared by the European Union Agency for Railways set out what objectives need to be achieved in terms of establishing the SERA. Standards are then developed by a number of bodies to describe how those objectives can be enabled. The standardisation for product design and construction is mostly handled by CEN, CENELEC and ETSI, complementing the various international standardisation bodies (ISO, IEC, ITU, etc). The standardisation of the processes for operation and maintenance is by and large the focus of the ROC with the UIC front and centre in the framework.

All standards are voluntary, with the exception of those that are formally referenced in legally-binding text and are applied by the European ROC with a will to make railways efficient, sustainable, safe, secure and attractive to the European citizens.

Region Europe fully supports the continuous development of standardisation within UIC.

The European Standardisation Management Group (ESMG)

The concept of a specific group for supporting standardisation work at a European level has been further developed in 2020 and led to the creation of the European Standardisation Management Group (ESMG).

The ESMG is a tripartite joint group with CER and EIM, with the purpose of preparing, considering and coordinating the ROC contributions to all European bodies related to standardisation issues.
Since November 2020, ESMG is managing ROC inputs. After its kick-off meeting on 17th November 2020, another was held on 18th February 2021. The UIC coordinates and act as the Secretariat for the ESMG. Laurent Schmitt, Chair of the Standardisation Platform, vice, Chair of JPCR, Coordinator of the Standardisation Programme at S2R has been appointed Chair of the ESMG.

The main concerns are the relationships with RASCOP, JPCR (SFR), ERA TWG STA and cooperation with CEN-CENELEC and ETSI as well as the interface with GRB and S2R and supporting the work related to the creation on AMoCs.

Partner web links

Community of European Railway (CER):
European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM):
Group of Representative Bodies (GRB):
European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC):
European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC):
European Federation of Museum & Tourist Railways (FEDECRAIL):
Association of European Rail Industry (UNIFE):
International Association of Public Transport (UITP):
European Rail Freight Association (ERFA):
International Union for Road-Rail combined transport (UIRR):
International Union of Private Wagons (UIP):
European Passenger Train and Traction Operating Lessors’ Association (EPTTOLA):

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IMPRESS project
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BISON project
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