The European Commission (EC) selected Roll2Rail, IT2Rail, and In2Rail following the first "Mobility for Growth" call of the Horizon 2020 programme. These lighthouse projects will launch key research activities that will eventually feed into Shift2Rail, which is intended to aid European companies' efforts to develop innovative, high-capacity and high-quality products in the long term.

Specifically Roll2Rail aims to develop technologies that will benefit the rolling stock of the future, with the results informing Shift2Rail Innovation Programme 1. IT2Rail will look at developing the journey experience by integrating travel services supported by innovative digital technologies and will feed into Innovation Programme 4. In2Rail will cover smart infrastructure, intelligent mobility management (I2M), and power supply and energy management. It will feed into Innovation Programmes 2 and 3.

The European Railway Industry Association (Unife) will coordinate Roll2Rail and IT2Rail, and British infrastructure manager Network Rail will lead In2Rail.

"This is a major milestone for our industry which is currently facing immense competition from outside of Europe," says Mr Philippe Citroën, Unife director general.

The Council of the EU adopted the regulation establishing the Shift2Rail joint undertaking in June 2014 with full support of the European parliament following five years of investigation and work by key European railway sector players under the coordination of Unife and in cooperation with the EC.