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Final Report Summary - ERRAC SSA (ERRAC SSA)

The objective of the ERRAC SSA was to support the activities of ERRAC, which are:
(1) to promote rail research and innovation in a close link with investment in rail infrastructures in an enlarged Europe;
(2) to coordinate pre-competitive research schemes by promoting collaboration and consistency between the various EU, National and industry rail research programmes;
(3) to adjust and update the Strategic Rail Research Agenda (released in 2002) as well as the ERRAC RBS 2020 (Research Business Scenario 2020); and
(4) to improve joint project building process within the rail sector.
The goal of the ERRAC SSA is not to duplicate the efforts made by the sector during the 2002-2004 period but to go further in effectively implementing the recommendations produced by the present ERRAC Working groups (WGs).

Some of the important events, where ERRAC Communications WG planned to actively present ERRAC activities are:
- high-level event on the Technology Platforms organised by the Austrian Presidency of the EU in Vienna on 4-5 May;
- World Congress of Railway Research (WCRR) in Montreal in early June;
- Innotrans in Berlin in September 2006;
- Transport congress in Madrid on 16 February 2007; and
- the UITP World Congress on 22 May 2007.

Following the success of the light rail and metro study performed under ERRAC AM, UITP has been mandated by ERRAC Plenary to prepare a study on regional railways. This sector is little known to decision-makers and its research needs are not known at all. The study concerned infrastructure and operations of the regional railways, including investigation of their research needs. A survey has been sent to over 200 local and regional operators.

When comparing the country fact sheets, it is interesting to see that there are some general differences between the former EU 15 and the 8 new Member States with a railway system. The most striking difference being that the volume of the railway freight transport in Central and Eastern Europe has dropped to one third of the level in the 80's, due to the change of regime, the transformation of the structure of industry and the break-up of the Eastern economic relations.

This of course has its implications on the arguments behind the research activities (i.e. survival, reorganisation and trying to keep the market versus development, investments and growth). It also causes problems concerning, for example, noise legislation and TSI development. On the other hand, despite the issues mentioned, the modal split of the transport shows a much more favourable picture than in Western Europe. Especially for the freight transport in a number of the new Member States, where not only the modal split, but also the economical situation looks very favourable.

In the end, the research activities may show a lot of similarity. The most important similarity being the urgency of the reduction of railway system costs. Innovations should be implemented to increase efficiency and reduce costs, while realising quality standards that meet the public and commercial needs (these may be lower or higher than the actual standards). Cost reduction is necessary now, either to free capital for new investments (EU 15) or to ensure survival (for most of the 8 new Member States with a railway system).

It is clear that there are many differences between the national research programmes, concerning their structure, but also concerning the content. If German-French, Austria-Sweden and United Kingdom-Sweden and Baltic cooperation on some topics is excluded, there is no relationship between the national programmes of member states.

A very important issue in this type of analysis is the problem of wording, i.e. sometimes different words are used for more or less the same thing, or vice versa. Taking this into account and looking into the national research activities and the SRRA in a bit more detail, three analyses have been done. The first concerning the coverage of the SRRA by the national activities, the second concerning the similarities between the national activities and the third concerning the coverage of these issues by the SRRA.