EUROPE’s Rail, the largest European rail research and innovation programme, came into force on November 30.

On November 19, the Council of the European Union adopted the regulation establishing the joint undertaking to accelerate the green and digital transition. This came into force 11 days later.

The new undertaking, which replaces Shift2Rail, will deliver projects worth €1.2bn. These will be funded by the joint undertaking with the resources provided by the EU’s Horizon Europe Programme, up to €600m.

The objective of the new body is to deliver a high capacity integrated European railway network by eliminating barriers to interoperability and providing solutions for full integration. This will cover traffic management, vehicles, infrastructure and services, aiming at faster uptake and deployment of projects and innovations.

In addition to the existing members, the new partnership will consist of an additional 25 members, from the rail supply industry, rail operating community, infrastructure managers and research. They will confirm their membership by signing the letter of commitment in the next few days and attend the first Governing Board planned for December 21.

“I am very pleased that this important milestone for the future of rail research and innovation falls in the European Year of Rail 2021,” said Mr Henrik Hololei, director-general for mobility and transport, European Commission (EC). “The Europe’s Rail partnership will continue the significant work on innovative solutions achieved through Shift2Rail and it will support rail address its other challenges to realise its full potential – for a more efficient and user-friendly EU rail system.”

“Never before have I seen so many experts and senior managers, from the EC, the candidate founding members, the sector, working so hard in the past two years, to achieve this major milestone,” said Mr Carlo Borghini, Europe’s Rail executive director. “The commitment and tangible results delivered by the Members and other beneficiaries of Shift2Rail are recognised today in the launch of the new partnership. Building upon the results of Shift2Rail, it is now the time to start moving to action to deliver impact for the European citizens.”

The formal event to launch the new partnership will take place early next year as part of the framework of the French Presidency of the EU.