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Smart Rail Services

Specific challenge: There are two main specific challenges concerning seamless travel and logistic services.

1.    Seamless multimodal travel: The challenge is to enhance the rail traveller experience centred on solutions that respond to customer needs to support anytime, anywhere door-to-door intermodal journeys encompassing distinct modes of transportation, including factors as travel planning, one-stop-shop ticketing and booking transactions, en-route travel companion, real-time re-accommodation.

2.    Logistic services: The challenge is two-fold:

–      To acquire a new service-oriented profile for rail freight services based on excellence in on-time delivery at competitive prices, interweaving its operations with other transport modes, addressing the real needs of the clientele while incorporating innovative value-added services.

–      To increase productivity, by addressing current operational and system weaknesses and limitations, including interoperability issues, and finding cost-effective solutions to these problems. Fostering technology transfer from other sectors into rail freight will be crucial for these innovation strategies to be put in place.

Scope: Proposals should address one of the two main challenges mentioned above.

Regarding Seamless multimodal travel, research and innovation activities should aim at conceiving and prototyping an on-line, mobile, suite of integrated facilities providing a whole new traveller experience throughout the journey (namely planning and reservation of user-friendly multimodal trips and services, including information related to the specific needs of persons with reduced mobility and to the environmental impact of user choices), easily accessible entitlements, validation and control for all transport modes, en-route assistance including re-accommodation. The whole process should be further supported by the necessary business analytics providing relevant feedback of traveller data with the aim of ensuring more robust and responsive transport operations. Developments should evolve on the basis of robust business models capable of guaranteeing the economics of these e-services in the long-term. 

Regarding Logistic Services, proposals should aim at addressing the key challenges of freight through a systematic ""top-down"" approach that backtracks from the performance indicators to be achieved – either in a geographical reach perspective (i.e. applicability of the solutions on a European scale) or in market segmentation (e.g. trainload/intermodal/wagonload or commodity-based segments) - and define the optimal combination of business, operational and technological solutions that are required for their delivery. In view of the significant financial fragility of the sector, priority should be given to those aspects that maximise potential returns in the short-term and require only moderate investment.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of around EUR 12 million for the first challenge (Seamless multimodal travel) and around EUR 6 million euro for the second challenge (Logistic services) would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

Regarding Seamless Travel, actions will aim at increased rail attractiveness through a new service profile for rail focused on customers by providing them with an integrated end-to-end solution for their travel needs – from transaction support to en-route assistance.

Regarding Logistic Services, actions will eventually be aimed at reaching 98% level on-time delivery, with improved loading capacity, placing rail amongst the ""best-in-class"" of logistic operators and guaranteeing multimodal operations. This over-arching goal will imply achieving significant gains from a diversification of the freight business, re-engineering production processes towards a leaner, more service-focused stance capable of delivering significantly higher levels of productivity (e.g. a doubling of both the revenue per employee and the annual load-runs per wagon, reduction of up to 50% in dwell times and a two-fold increase in the load factor for trains/wagons).

Type of action: Research and Innovation Actions