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European rail research network of excellence (EUR²EX)

Final Report Summary - EURNEX (European rail research network of excellence)

The mission of the EURNEX was to create an excellent European network of rail research institutes as world class player that shall support the railway sector and assist the members of the European Union (EU) to operate an interoperable and competitive rail system across the continent. EURNEX was therefore dedicated to contribute to major industrial and traffic policy aims of the EU. The main objectives of EURNEX were:
- to integrate the fragmented European rail research landscape to provide European leadership and world class excellence in that sector;
- to promote the railway contribution to the sustainable transport policy in Europe;
- to improve the competitiveness and the economic stability of the railway sector by creating a customer oriented and durable network; promoting technological innovations and knowledge management; implementing knowledge not only from scientific institutes but also from rail operators, infrastructure managers, supply industry including SME's; focussing on the priorities given by ERRAC's Strategic Rail Research Agenda 2020 (SRRA), but prepared to cover new critical items which might come up in the future.

The customer-orientation of EURNEX is the essential key factor for its long-term durability beyond the EU granting period. The sustainable business case to be developed has to build on the trusting relation between the researchers organised in the network and the rail sector demanding for scientific services.

With EURNEX, the integration of the excellent European rail researchers has been achieved and EURNEX becomes more and more visible in the top rail research on international level. This includes as well the launch and the further development of EURNEX Scientific Poles of Excellence. With the poles - thoroughly defined by matching of rail sector driven top-down and scientists based bottom-up process - the involved and committed EURNEX scientists profit by:
- internationalisation through establishing new and trusting partnerships with colleagues from other countries, thus complementing the own capabilities to improve the 'individual scientific competitiveness';
- improving the knowledge about the specific challenges and future issues of the rail system in other countries; important contribution to enhance the understanding of the European dimension for the future rail system;
- learning more and discussing about the future issues and the project approaches to cope with these challenges through the direct dialogue with industry's and operator's representatives in the poles;
- initiating and developing research and development (R&D) projects on European scale within in the poles and with cross-pole multidisciplinary cooperation (already done with Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) first call, for instant).

Under the EURNEX umbrella, a set of decentralised corporate services have been defined and further developed. These corporate services are dedicated to provide added value to the members of EURNEX, but also for the European rail sector as a whole. The corporate services are important to improve the position, standing and integrated competence of the EURNEX scientific community to be world class player as well as being visible to the industrial and political decision makers by integrating the European research area for the rail system. Therefore, the specified corporate services:
- EURNEX EURail, the virtual rail university - first step: post graduate training, incl. short training courses;
- rail knowledge library within the EURNEX KMS (knowledge management system) to preserve and to improve the integrated knowledge on the rail system for all stakeholders;
- neutral support for harmonised product qualification methods, railway testing and simulation; i.e. to support the European Rail Agency (ERA);
- gender equality promoting activities to skill women for leading positions in rail research; launch of the mentor-trainee programme;
- EURNEX management, business and acquisition support by secretary general; definition, precision and prioritisation of service items by the network members represent an essential part of EURNEX' sustainability.

Added value is the key ingredient for EURNEX because EURNEX is a network of voluntary members, providing services to its partners in industry and governing / regulating agencies. The existence of EURNEX is not critical for the (short-term) survival of any of its members of partners. EURNEX will only be sustainable if it is providing value added to its members and to its partners.

The part of the research institutions is to make sure those customers funds to the association are better spent than until now:
- by increasing the knowledge basis available to them; and
- the level of quality of the results and of the efficiency of the research process, which is made possible by the structured coalition of the excellent institutions;
- by high level education;
- by new relationship with partners form rail industries, operators and infrastructure manages;
- individual contact locally to integrated European knowledge.
EURNEX role is to state this clearly as the first principle of the business model as an instrument to persuade industry clients that EURNEX can deliver improved results and higher efficiency when acting as a stable network.

EURNEX did organise its contribution and the integration of EURNEX expert know how into the European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) future actions and is ready to foster ERRAC's scientific research base. Having succeeded in the integration of excellent rail research institutions throughout the EU-27, EURNEX and its pole leaders and members are ready to support the European research roadmaps. It was and still is the European Commission's strong desire to overcome fragmented approaches in the rail research. With EURNEX and its members organised in the association and constituting an integrated ERA, ERRAC is kindly requested to take the opportunity offered by EURNEX members and foster its competencies as a research advisor.

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