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Paradigm shifts for railway – Technology uptake strategies for a lean, integrated and flexible railway system

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FLEX-RAIL (Paradigm shifts for railway – Technology uptake strategies for a lean, integrated and flexible railway system)

Reporting period: 2020-06-01 to 2021-06-30

The Flex-Rail vision was formulated as follows:
‘In order for rail to keep their central role in the EU transport system, paradigm shifts on fundamental rail sector characteristics are required; both rail industry and organisation have to target a lean, integrated and flexible railway system, which will stimulate further innovation within the rail sector and will ensure that rail services can address the future user needs. Development of the required technologies must be aligned with the pace of innovation of other relevant sectors and must be accompanied with suitable governance structures and business models.’

To address the vision and challenge, Flex-Rail established a set of clear and measurable objectives:
1.Development of an in-depth overview of relevant state-of-the-art innovation and technology trends, transport sector innovations and blue-sky projects
2.Determination of gaps between future user needs, competitiveness requirements and technology potential with the status quo in the rail sector, including required paradigm shifts.
3.Definition of rail system scenario addressing all future user needs, competitiveness requirements and technology potential
4.Validation refining and improving the defined rail system scenario by specification of:
• transition pathways toward the rail system scenario end-point considering the competitiveness and other requirements given the foreseen transitions of the transport sector and in specific of the road sector.
• governance of the required transition and the different pathways, considering interests and potential resistance of society and the market.
• business models required for achieving the targeted impacts
5.Definition and development of a dedicated Impact Assessment framework and models and apply it to determine the impact of the rail system scenarios developed. The following impacts should be covered:
6.Creating involvement of the relevant rail and non-rail stakeholders in the process
7.Definition of required adjustments and refinements to the Shift2Rail objectives and workplans, based on the concluded rails system scenario.
Following the proposal of the project, FLEX-Rail performed:
An in-depth overview of the state of the art of ideas and technological trends related to innovations of the transport industry and non-transport sector technologies. As such, it constituted a knowledge basis for subsequent Flex-Rail Work Packages (WP). In particular, for (i) the definition of KPIs, which are key assessment components in WP3, (ii) the identification of gaps and development of future (rail system) transition pathways and scenario in WP4 and (iii) the impact assessment of these transition pathways and scenarios in WP5.
WP 3 defined and prepared a dedicated framework to be used in WP 5 to assess the impact of the defined rail technology scenarios and transition pathways as defined in WP 4.
Within working package 4, gaps between future user needs, competitiveness requirements and technology potentials with the status quo in the rail sector have been identified and future rail system scenarios have been developed.
In working package 5 the rail system scenarios have been assessed about their innovation and competition potential and further translated into business models and governance requirements for implementation.
Working package 6 addressed conclusions and recommendations on future adaptations of S2R activities, such as:
• Establish a user behavioural-oriented service design thinking approach by orientation on attractive user groups and markets and aiming on the fulfilment of user needs and user requirements.
• Aim for a lean and agile R&I organisation focussed on targeted ‘Orchestration’ of innovations and focus on the solutions that deliver change supported by viable business models for Railway 4.0.
• To address the Green Deal targets, focus on optimal energy efficiency (kWh/pkm or kWh/tonkm) of the multi-modal mobility service offered
• Note that focussing on a multi-modal mobility system also implies that inclusion of citizens should be ensure by the mobility system as a whole and not necessarily by each individual mode.
• Address the need for a new governance and fix the broken.
• Collaborate with other sectors and the “outside world”.
FLEX-RAIL organised a final dissemination event in June 2021 linked to the ERRAC plenary to attract the relevant stakeholders at appropriate level and to inform them about the final conclusions and recommendations of the project.
While the current work programme will follow a timely innovation pathway, project FLEX-RAIL developed beyond the state of the art, considering disruptive innovations not only in technology but also regarding the boundary conditions.
In line with the S2R vision as taken up in the adjusted MAAP 2017, the user needs have been the leading requirements for the rail system scenarios, business models and transition pathways developed following a user-behavioural service design thinking approach.
Efficiency and competitiveness of the European rail sector will be achieved by focusing on realistic requirements and corresponding solutions for rail innovation. In that sense, a focus on the solutions with the highest innovation potential is needed. New business models and accompanied governance actions present transition pathways to a competitive future rail sector.
A faster and less costly transition of the rail system can be achieved by using or adjusting technologies already (being) developed in other sectors. Cooperation with other sectors can facilitate innovation and reduce the R&D costs of the entire transport sector. If technologies are used by a larger than only the rail market the price will be lower as well, which will increase the potential for market uptake.
Active interaction with the relevant S2R and other projects has been established in order to create synergy where possible. Rail and non-rail stakeholders have been involved in the project events and dissemination activities to stimulate creativity and innovation in service development actions for a broad socio-economic impact.
trends and technologies