THE Shift2Rail (S2R) joint undertaking has issued calls for proposals for two research topics: developing Digital Automatic Coupler (DAC) and measuring the impact of research and innovation (R&I) for rail stakeholders.

S2R is making indicative Horizon 2020 co-funding of €1.6m and €200,000 available for the respective projects.

Digital Automatic Couplers

S2R’s IP5 Programme has been working to deliver a demonstrator for a DAC that, in addition to the automatic coupling, integrates digital communications and energy. Rail research and innovation will continue beyond the current DAC Type 4 towards a Type 5, which enables automatic decoupling, as a scalable solution.

The intrinsic nature of the DAC requires a single European solution to be deployed on the full network. S2R says that while this approach carries challenges, opportunities and risks, any alternatives would simply accelerate the decline of rail freight.

The European DAC Delivery Programme (EDDP) launched by S2R encompass technological assessments of the available solutions, testing and demos, definition of migration plans, definition of standards’ proposals, assessing the interfaces with other programmes, business cases, and communication and dissemination, aiming to bridge R&I towards the future deployment of the European DAC.

S2R has called for proposals to address the challenges facing the development of the DAC, starting with ensuring that management of the EDDP and stakeholder involvement is from a wide geographical range and works closely with S2R.

Project proposals should also address the following work streams:

  • DAC technical specifications for enhanced system prototype of the energy and communication system
  • European DAC migration concepts and planning, and
  • attractiveness and skills required to implement the migration.

The project is expected to run for 18 months.

R&I impact and benefits to make rail attractive for stakeholders

The second call is for proposals for a project to examine whether research underway throughout S2R is in line with the needs of the industry. The study will alsolook at how the industry will benefit from the research.

The winning bidder will perform a top-down analysis to define the most important stakeholders for both passenger and freight transport, identifying the main conditions for seamless and optimised journeys and logistic with railways as the backbone.

This analysis will have to be matched against the outcome of S2R and the expected impact of Europe’s Rail R&I. It will also determine the obstacles and key success factors for the rail system to attract more freight and passenger customers to a multi-modal transport network.

Following the successful conclusion of the R&I actions and their future implementation in the rail network to improve rail operation and asset performance as well as unlock innovative sustainable multi-modal door to door services, the project proposals will demonstrate the benefits of using new rail transport capabilities for the final users, passengers or freight customers.

The proposal will also assess the impact of the existing, ongoing and future R&I activities in the rail sector supported by S2R and its successor, Europe’s Rail. This will emphasise the societal challenges with a specific focus on sustainability, digital, manufacturing and urban mobility.

The deadline to submit a proposal for both calls is May 18.