The European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) is a European Technology Platform (ETP) established in 2001 to serve as a much-needed single European body with both the competence and capability to help revitalise the EU’s rail sector and make it more competitive by fostering increased innovation and guiding research efforts at European level.
The council comprises of 45 representatives from both the sector and outside of it: manufacturers, operators, infrastructure managers, the European Commission, EU Member States, academics and users’ groups. ERRAC covers all forms of rail transport, ranging from conventional, high speed and freight applications to urban and regional services.
ERRAC’s primary objective is to communicate the railway sector’s common Research & Innovation vision to the European institutions and other important stakeholders. By doing so, the council aims to help shape a favourable funding landscape for railway research initiatives that drive innovation via calls for projects and joint undertakings like the influential Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking and its successor programme Europe’s Rail.
As a European Technology Platform for rail research and innovation, ERRAC is comprised of a wide range of European rail sector stakeholder organisations and their members. Their involvement in ERRAC is entirely voluntary.
“Our stakeholders and their commitment are crucial to ERRAC’s work and raison d’être. The importance of open and reliable cooperation to achieve both the vision of rail transport as the backbone of Europe’s mobility and the Green Deal cannot be overestimated.”
Roland Moser, chairman ERRAC
What is ERRAC?
ERRAC aims to act as the single voice for the railway sector’s research and innovation efforts in Europe. The objective is to materialise the concept of a “European Research Area” for rail, which would optimise the sector’s research and innovation potential within the Union.
To promote the development of sustainable mobility solutions that position rail to best serve as the backbone of a future transport paradigm, ERRAC actively collects, analyses and disseminates the needs of end-users of passenger and freight services, as well as the business necessities of sector stakeholders (e.g., the railway operating community, the railway suppliers, etc.).
ERRAC’s vision for a technically-enhanced railway in Europe – as outlined in Rail 2050 Vision – was published in December 2017. 2 years later, to support the strategy’s delivery, a more action-oriented document, titled Rail 2030 Research and Innovation Priorities, was published and is now available in both full and brief versions.
To make this vision a reality, ERRAC has fashioned itself into the framework “club” through which the sector can develop and establish a common long-term programme to influence the planning of European research drives – at both the EU and national levels – that pertain to sustainable transport solutions which could benefit from placing railways at their backbone. ERRAC liaises with and provides advice to European institutions such as DGs RTD, MOVE, ENERGY, GROW, CONNECT, HOME, the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA), the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking, Transport Advisory Groups (TAG) and Transport Programme Committees (TPC). The ETP identifies misalignment between the rail sector’s aspirations and EU policies to inform its suggestions on how to realign them to promote the delivery of the future European railway system.
ERRAC supports the strategy’s implementation by advocating its advancement to relevant political bodies and fostering joint research initiatives and common innovation projects amongst stakeholders. ERRAC also identifies available sources of funding amongst both existing and potential financial streams.
Since 2014, ERRAC has built a strong collaborative relationship with the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking and helped formulate its programme. Laterally, ERRAC promoted the Joint Undertaking’s extension as a successor programme, most notably through publications such as the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) and the 2050 Vision.
ERRAC constantly seeks to identify areas where greater synergies can be developed between the railway sector and other modes of transport. This is given expression in the liaison and cooperation with other mobility ETPs (i.e., ACARE, ALICE, ERTRAC and WATERBORNE) to promote common approaches to enhance multimodal research and innovation.
Last, but certainly not least, ERRAC has a role to play in national level of railway research and innovation, actively building consensus and improving synergy between these efforts and those being carried out by the EU and the private sector.