General context of the business activity

In the next decades, the overall transport system will have to answer to changing needs and expectations from users. Sustainable trans­portation has become a central issue for a constantly growing and commuting world population and is more crucial than ever to economic performance.

The rail system already provides solutions for the transport of goods and people all over the world, in terms of safety, environment, total journey time, low emissions and low energy. It has the potential to offer attractive urban, regional and long distance mobility.

However, as a future-oriented global industry, rail transport is striving to offer an even more attractive, affordable, safe, clean, competitive and reliable transport mode, well placed within and interlinked with the other modes of the global transport system. Innovating and harmonising products and technologies are more than ever a necessity for the rail market to deploy all its potential and to deliver cost effective services for all its customers and contribute to a sustainable mobility for all.
Investment in Research and Development and innovation is an essential key to survival and success for the rail system. One of the key challenges facing our work is the present global recession which means we have to try to focus even more on the aims mentioned above.

Achievements to be highlighted

UIC Research Portal (& database)
UIC Innovation Awards
UIC as coordinator for three Call 6 project proposals under FP7 and involved in five others

“Research Newsletter”, December 2012

Paradoxically, the economic crisis has brought a new breath to research and innovation as they have an important role to play in supporting new economic policies which should be a source of growth and employment and respectful of the environment. If the rail sector is to continue to grow and increase its share of markets all over the world, there has to be adequate investment in research and innovation.

Research is regarded as core and fundamental tasks of the UIC organisation, supporting the efforts of its members in their need to resolve operational questions and problems through exchange of information based on the results of research projects collected from our members’ efforts and from leading rail research institutes and academia, benchmarking and actively carrying out studies and research, development and innovation, as well as developing common standards.

The newly developed UIC Research Portal is intended to play a crucial role in facilitating this process.

This Portal contains and collects information from many global sources, first of all building on information shared by our members and their research institutes, from excellent research providers used and recommended by our members, and by linking up globally with other rail research databases.

In addition, the organisation of the first UIC Innovation Awards demonstrates the commitment of UIC in promoting the railway sector and will stimulate the creativity of its researchers and engineers to meet the challenges that will lead the train to become the backbone of tomorrow’s transport system.

Research ranges from collecting information and best practice to developing new knowledge and demonstrating the feasibility of its results. Research can be carried out through internal UIC projects, by taking part in external projects such as those funded by the European Commission’s Framework Programme for Research (also open to non-EU based UIC members), which in FP7 had roughly 500 million euros available for the co-funding of railway research projects, as well as through other forms of collaboration and funding. The new European Commission Horizon 2020 Research Programme, which will run from 2014 until 2020, will have considerably more funding available for rail and rail-related research & innovation projects to support the important role of rail transport, as foreseen in the EC transport policy and as described in the 2011 White Paper.

The IRRB (International Rail Research Board) is the UIC working body dealing with research serving our membership worldwide. It is currently chaired by Mr Boris Lapidus of VNIIZhT/RZD in close cooperation with an international team of three vice-chairmen and with its members. The IRRB has made some important steps in the implementation of its Strategy Document as presented at the UIC General Assembly in December 2011 and will continue to be one of the major UIC working bodies showing good progress.

The IRRB’s mission is stated as follows:
To effectively meet the needs of the railways in the field of research performance, familiarisation with innovations and results of research activities conducted in the international community to support the processes of enhancing railway transport in order to obtain a competitive advantage, while also contributing to the development and support of the scientific community by helping to find relevant and popular research topics, and customers or consumers of this work.

The RICG (Research and Innovation Coordination Group), co-chaired by Mr Bo Olsson of Trafikverket and Mrs Andrea Schaer of DB, is the second research-focused working body mainly supporting the European members of UIC, coordinating their research efforts, facilitating their participation in EU funded research projects, either through UIC services or directly and above all playing a strong role in defining the European research priorities for EU funding and defending the UIC members’ position in ERRAC (European Rail Research Advisory Council – to the European Commission).

From the start of ERRAC’s new three-year term in mid-2012, UIC has offered to provide the secretariat to ERRAC and support the renewed process and set-up which will be even more effective in preparing the “route” for rail to be the backbone of the transport system in Europe.

Another area focused on rail research where UIC is very active is in contributing to the organisation of the WCRR (World Congress on Rail Research) held in Sydney from 25 – 27 November 2013, back-to-back with the annual AusRail Congress and exhibition, hosted by CRC, RISSB and ARA.

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