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Transversal Exploratory Research Activities for Railway

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - TER4RAIL (Transversal Exploratory Research Activities for Railway)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2020-11-30

In the last decades, rail transportation has experienced barriers to incorporating new techniques and technologies at a competitive pace, and the sector competitiveness has suffered. The main objective of TER4RAIL, a research project funded by the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (S2R JU), was to identify which innovations rail needs to incorporate, and how to do so. The project broke down the main objective into four specific aims:
- Identify new opportunities for innovative research
- Review the sector roadmaps
- Analyse data to build arguments for railway
- Promote the project outcomes
TER4RAIL analysed the main trends in rail research and identified railway research long-term needs. Furthermore, it gathered relevant stakeholders, created a strong public engagement and provided occasions for the cross-fertilisation of knowledge. Lastly, TER4RAIL underlined railways role in the future sustainable European multimodal transport system in light of novel political and societal aspects. Fig 1 illustrates TER4RAIL Consortium Composition.
"TER4RAIL analysed how research and innovation are organised, the relevance of collaboration across sectors, and disruptive technologies and innovations. Figure 2 represents the project structure.
Within WP1, TER4RAIL identified new opportunities for innovative research and facilitated the cross-fertilisation of knowledge from other disciplines with the Rail Innovative Research Observatory. The participants considered digitalisation, materials, 5G, automation, batteries, big data and energy as the main areas of interest. TER4RAIL identified non-rail stakeholders that can enrich R&I and analysed eight European Technology Platforms and Public-Private Partnerships. Figure 3 summarises how the analysed ETPs/PPPs are related to rail capabilities.
In WP2, TER4RAIL developed a Delphi study on the rail and intermodal roadmaps’ challenges to provide recommendations on rail technology needs. Figure 4 presents the stable statements from the Delphi Study, offering insights that can critique, support or amend the future roadmaps.
The roadmap analysis aimed to identify which misalignments and gaps characterise the EU mobility roadmaps and how to include trends that are not mentioned ensuring rail can become the backbone of future European mobility. Figure 5 presents the Roadmap analysis methodology.
The research showed mobility roadmaps lack focus on the necessity of adapting to citizens’ needs; the short-term policy influence on transport developments; the multi-modal mindset absence in other modes to integrate railways; the need for tailored and on-demand mobility.
TER4RAIL highlighted comparability in roadmaps which might lead to accelerated pace in developing cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary research, information management systems, physical transport network, safety and security, digitalisation and interconnection of rail networks.
TER4RAIL highlighted the rail sector must achieve more collaborations with other transport modes, and non-rail roadmaps lack to mention the opportunities arising from collaboration/integration with railway services. This strongly hinders the process of establishing the future European mobility with rail as a backbone.
Within WP3, TER4RAIL collected, analysed and elaborated data and statistics regarding the rail’s advantages and benefits. The project gathered success stories, presented in figure 6, to illustrate how the rail system can become the backbone of Europe’s future multimodal transport system.
The research highlighted how the rail industry is placed compared to other modes, its strengths, threats, advantages and weaknesses, and how to turn specific weaknesses into strengths. Figure 7 presents the railways SWOT undertaken within WP3.
Within WP4, TER4RAIL has been presented at European research conferences and congresses and in the S2R JU funded project FLEX-RAIL. TER4RAIL partners organised two round tables during ERRAC plenaries, a London Summit, a workshop on urban scenarios 2050 at the UITP Summit, 3 webinars on the Delphi Study and the final TER4RAIL event. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, international events have been cancelled and the TER4RAIL Final Conference has been held online within an ERRAC plenary. Nevertheless, the dissemination activities presented the project's major results, raised awareness about TER4RAIL's key conclusions, and prepared the implementation of TER4RAIL recommendations. TER4RAIL also contributed to widen S2R JU's and ERRAC audience. In this context, TER4RAIL successfully organised a Video Contest for young people on ""Future of the European Railways"", which gathered three video submissions and achieved a broad social media presence. Figure 8 presents the TER4RAIL video contest."
"TER4RAIL examined and assessed the emerging trends potentially useful for the rail sector. TER4RAIL expected impacts are the following:
1. Cross-fertilisation of knowledge from other disciplines. TER4RAIL provided a list of rail and non-rail related bodies for exchanging ideas and paths for common and cooperative research. It identified and analysed new opportunities for innovative research for the rail sector.
2. Kick-starting of new ideas through dedicated S2R JU events. TER4RAIL successfully launched a Video Contest to engage European Youth, and its presence in the ""Science is Wonderful"" event improved S2R JU activities’ knowledge amongst a new public.
3. Gathering relevant stakeholders around a common forward-looking activity. TER4RAIL introduced dynamism to ERRAC by setting out activities bringing all rail stakeholders in one direction.
4. To create strong engagement of scientists, citizens, innovators and policymakers and non-rail stakeholders. TER4RAIL analysed the transport roadmaps and developed a Delphi study among rail and non-rail specialists. The results will help steer the next ERRAC roadmaps and generated a high academic scientific interest by listing research gaps for possible further PhD works, industrial and governmental funded research and future JU calls.
5. Long-term needs of railway research. TER4RAIL provided new R&I topics for development with inputs, themes for research and long-term requirements that will be addressed to advisory bodies as ERRAC, ALICE, S2R JU.
6. Participation of new actors on rail research. The TER4RAIL-organised ERRAC plenaries have been characterised by a higher number of attendees from non-usual prospects, attracted by cross-modal aspects as road multimodal transportation, aviation and cybersecurity. D1.3 presented documentation of novel interactions.
7. Energy, sustainability, climate change. TER4RAIL identified railways' advantages compared to other transportation modes and highlighted the opportunities resulting from the energy transition.
8. Political and societal aspects. TER4RAIL aimed to accelerate innovation processes within the rail sector and enhance the knowledge transfer between rail and other sectors."