Engineering, manufacturing and construction

"The train of the future" task force to develop priorities for research projects

On an initiative of Mrs. Cresson, Commissioner for research and development, Mr. Bangemann, Commissioner for industry, telecommunications and information technologies, and Mr. Kinnock, Commissioner for transport, the European Commission has set up six task forces to develop in...

On an initiative of Mrs. Cresson, Commissioner for research and development, Mr. Bangemann, Commissioner for industry, telecommunications and information technologies, and Mr. Kinnock, Commissioner for transport, the European Commission has set up six task forces to develop industrial common research projects in order to reinforce European competitiveness.

This article examines the task force which focuses on the train of the future:

The relative importance of rail transport has deteriorated in recent years compared to road and air transport. In Europe, it accounts for only 20% of passenger travel and 10% of goods traffic. It is too expensive and inflexible to meet the needs of users. Nevertheless, being one of the safest methods of transport and least expensive in terms of energy and damage to the environment, it has much to offer. It is hoped that the development of high-speed trains and interaction between road and rail will help to revive interest in this means of transport.

In the high-speed train sector, Europe has a highly favourable technological position. While research costs are lower than many other sectors, they are still high and the Member States will spend some ECU 1 billion on research over the 1995-1998 period. In addition, ECU 38 million has been allocated to the transport sector under the Fourth Framework Programme. However, there is very little coordination of activities in this sector in Europe.

The task force intends to help coordinate activities on technological developments which will improve the services offered to all rail users, through encouraging research at the European Union level on:

- Developing electro-magnetic propulsion mono-rails and high-speed trains as well as urban and suburban rail transport systems;
- Improving the capacity of lines through better traffic management;
- Improving and reinforcing the efficiency of signalling systems;
- Improving safety, punctuality and comfort through the use of new data-processing and telecommunications technologies.

The task force is working to identify priorities for technological and industrial development, to create conditions which will give research activities at the European Union level a catalysing effect and to stimulate more cooperation between large European industrial groups.

The task force commenced activities in May and has drawn up its main orientations. Consultations with interested parties have already commenced.

Action programme for the remainder of 1995:

- June: consultations with representatives of industry, consumers and interest groups and organizations;
- September: finalization and publication of responsibilities of the task force and technological priorities.

For details on the five other task forces, please see the relevant record on the RTD-News database (identified by its RCN number):

- Multimedia educational software (RCN 4288);
- The car of the future (RCN 4289);
- The new generation of aeroplanes (RCN 4290);
- Vaccines and virus-based diseases (RCN 4291);
- Transport intermodality (RCN 4293).

last modification: 2017-08-07 17:15:01



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