Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

To develop priorities for research projects of common industrial interest to facilitate the coordination of European efforts aimed at improving the services offered to all rail users.


The task force on the train of the future is one of several task forces which were on the initiative of Commissioners Cresson (Research, education and training), Bangemann (Industry, telecommunications and information technologies) and Kinnock (Transport) for the purpose of developing priorities for research projects of common industrial interest. The task forces are focused on clearly defined areas and are aimed at, firstly, identifying, and then coordinating, the research efforts being made in each area (at both private and public level) in the individual Member States and within the framework of relevant European Union programmes, particularly research carried out under the Fourth RTD Framework Programme.

The rationale behind the task forces is to redress the current situation where only 13% of public research budgets are allocated to research projects involving European cooperation, as opposed to 87% for strictly national research. Greater coordination between the Member States' research activities is necessary to reduce expensive and wasteful duplication of effort and will, ultimately, improve Europe's industrial competitiveness in the global economy. The first task forces were set up in early 1995 and cover six areas: multimedia educational software; the car of the future; the new generation of aeroplanes; vaccines and virus-based diseases; the train of the future; and transport intermodality. The list is open-ended and new task forces may be established in the future. These may cover such issues as clean technologies, information society applications, construction materials, the maritime industry, etc.

Despite Europe's highly favourable technological position in the high-speed train sector, there is very little coordination of activities conducted between the Member States and between the European Union and national research programmes. Against this background, the task force intends to help coordinate activities on technological developments which will improve the services offered to all rail users, by encouraging research at the European Union level on:

- Developing electro-magnetic propulsion mono-rails and high-speed trains as well as urban and suburban rail transport systems;
- Improving the capacity of lines through better traffic management;
- Improving and reinforcing the efficiency of signalling systems;
- Improving safety, punctuality and comfort through the use of new data-processing and technologies.

The task force is working to identify priorities for technological and industrial development, to create conditions which will give research activities at the European Union level a catalysing effect and to stimulate more cooperation between large industrial groups.


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As a first step, the task forces are responsible for assessing the situation in their specific domain, preparing an inventory of actual research efforts and defining priorities for research following intensive consultations with industry and users. On the basis of this analysis, a scheme for combining priority projects with the relevant specific programmes under the Fourth Framework Programme will be drawn up.

At present, the task forces do not, themselves, manage or fund projects; they will, nonetheless, be able to influence the content of the remaining calls for proposals under the Fourth Framework Programme and the structure and content of the Fifth Framework Programme.

Eventually, the task forces could make use of various provisions contained in the R&D title of the Treaty on European Union: Article 130k which authorizes the establishment of supplementary R&D programmes involving the participation of certain Member States only, Article 130l which provides for Community participation in R&D programmes undertaken by several Member States or Article 130n which permits the Community to establish joint undertakings for research purposes.


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