Engineering, manufacturing and construction

"Train and Railway Systems of the Future" Task Force: Action Plan Guidelines

The European Commission has published the Action Plan Guidelines for the "Train and Railway Systems of the Future" Task Force.Railways face a multitude of crucial business and industrial challenges if they are to respond effectively to the market opportunities arising from t...

The European Commission has published the Action Plan Guidelines for the "Train and Railway Systems of the Future" Task Force.

Railways face a multitude of crucial business and industrial challenges if they are to respond effectively to the market opportunities arising from the continuous growth in demand for mobility of passengers and goods. The development of a competitive and business-driven railway system of the future requires the mobilization of the railway community - operators, systems and component suppliers, regulatory authorities, trade unions and railway users at large - to consider jointly the manifold challenges facing railways and to devise appropriate strategies to respond to the market needs.

In this context, and in accordance of its "Terms of Reference", the Commission Task Force will centre its activity on the analysis of the impact technology acquisition may have in the mainstream development of the railway sector, and on the definition of a coherent research and technological development (RTD) strategy designed to bring about significant improvements in the overall effectiveness of the rail transport system and enhance the competitiveness of European industry in worldwide markets.

The activities of the Task Force will cover the following main subject areas:

- Overview of the Rail Transport Market:
Overview of the main political, business and social issues underlying the evolution of the rail transport market. This includes a review of the challenges that face the main relevant sectors - railway equipment suppliers, railway operators, service providers - and of the trends resulting from the implementation of the Common Transport Policy, the deregulation of the markets, the industrial structure, the evolving market needs regarding mobility and the drive towards more environmentally friendly production and operation;

- Potential Strategies for Market Penetration and Consolidation:
Identification of the spectrum of political, financial, regulatory and industrial instruments capable of enabling the development of effective strategies for consolidation of the existing markets and penetration of the new markets identified in the previous paragraph. The main aims are to enhance the capability of railway operators to provide better customer service, and to increase the competitiveness of the supply industry in worldwide markets;

- Strategic Technology Acquisition Requirements - Operational and Manufacturing Needs:
Against the background outlined in the previous paragraphs, critical assessment of the main technological issues which are to be tackled to reach significant step-changes in the effectiveness of the rail transport system and in the capability of industry to supply better quality and lower cost products, in reduced lead times, within the constraints imposed by an ever-increasing move towards a customer-driven market;

- A Strategic RTD Action Plan for Railways:
A Strategic Master Plan for railway RTD, based on technology acquisition needs, should address aspects such as the coordination of relevant RTD work at Community and Member State level, and the clustering of activities that can establish a prioritized programme of high added-value technology demonstration projects. The implementation routes will include consideration of other relevant Community instruments: the Structural Funds, articles 130K and 130L of the Treaty, and financial engineering possibilities.

A coherent framework of RTD actions should be identified, including detailing of:

- Objectives of the work carried out, including:
. Identification of the key issues to be addressed;
. Potential participants;
. Main deliverables and timescale;
. Estimation of necessary resources;
. Accompanying measures leading to a wide dissemination and exploitation of the specific RTD results;

- Accompanying Measures:
Activities which might facilitate the up-take of results in the market, including training, education and technology transfer, must be covered. Pre-normative research is also needed to provide a sound regulatory framework, thus enabling the lead time between technological development and market consolidation to be reduced;

- Organizational Structure and Implementation of Activities

The Task Force will be composed of group of officials from the different Commission Services with an interest in the railway sector. In close consultation with the main interested parties, the Task Force should diagnose the main strategic challenges facing the railway industry at large, and the contribution technology acquisition may provide in devising effective responses to market needs. This overall perspective should serve as a basis for the definition and implementation of a coherent RTD Action Plan based on a limited set of priority, high added-value, technology demonstration activities. These should focus on themes of common industrial interest, which may lead to significant improvements in the overall effectiveness of the rail transport system or improve the competitiveness of European industry in worldwide markets.

It is proposed that the work of the Task Force should be supported through a flexible and adaptive organizational framework based on a two-tier structure as follows:

- High Level Steering Group:
A High Level Steering Group, comprising senior representatives from the Commission services, the railway Community at large - railway operators, suppliers, trade unions, railway users and regulatory authorities - will establish a framework for collaborative technology acquisition activities based on an analysis of the main issues facing the railway sector and the identification of areas of common interest. This should include the definition of long term objectives, implementation paths, and activity-review and resources planning. It should also outline measures to reduce the lead time between technological development and market penetration;

- Technical Working Groups:
Working groups of technical experts will be appointed, where appropriate, to prepare detailed proposals following the strategic guidelines from the High Level Steering group. In particular, they should develop the proposed priority projects to a level of detail which enables a comparative assessment to be made with the RTD activities already covered under Fourth Framework programme. Short/medium term gap-filling measures, that might contribute towards the fulfilment of the strategic targeted objectives, should also be identified.

The Action Plan has to evolve in compliance with the objectives and management procedures of the Fourth Framework programme. Four distinct phases are foreseen:

. Phase I: Coordination of relevant on-going activities - bringing together, under a coordinating framework, research projects which are relevant to the themes selected for technology demonstration;
. Phase II: Aggregation of planned activities: through targeted and coordinated calls for research proposals addressing the selected themes, clustering the relevant activities under the various specific programmes;
- Phase III: extension via supplementary funding: through additional resources that may become available at either Community or national level to reinforce the Community actions, notably in terms of gap-filling activities, technology integration and full-scale demonstration;
- Phase IV: Recommendations - for new target-oriented RTD scenarios and implementation routes that could be included in the Fifth Framework Programme.

Timetable and deliverables:

- Diagnosis report identifying the main political, business, technical and social issues underlying the evolution of the railway market, and the enabling effect of strategic technology acquisition in the mainstream development of the sector (due end November 1995);
- Inventory of railway-related RTD activities currently ongoing or planned at Community and Member State level, including those actions promoted under the TENs, the various Information Society initiatives and within the framework of EUREKA (due late November 1995);
- Detailed outline of the proposed priority projects, including quantification of objectives - based on performance, life-cycle-cost, safety or environmental impact considerations - main expected deliverables, timescales, identification of potential participants, and estimation of necessary resources (due late December 1995);
- Implementation plan for the targeted actions, encompassing two main phases:
. A start-up phase on the basis of clustering of current and planned activities within the Fourth Framework Programme;
. An extension phase through additional measures that may develop on the basis of complementary RTD and structural funding, or financial engineering operations (due late February 1996);
- Elaboration of recommendations for the Fifth Framework Programme (late February 1996 ).

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

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