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Programme Type
Funding programme
European (European)
European Union
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Infrastructure (INF)
Transport mode
Rail icon
Transport policies
Deployment planning/Financing/Market roll-out
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Please, find on this link the Interim Evaluation of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (2014-2016).

Shift2Rail (S2R) is the first European rail initiative to seek focused research and innovation (R&I) and market-driven solutions by accelerating the integration of new and advanced technologies into innovative rail product solutions. Shift2Rail promotes the competitiveness of the European rail industry and meets changing EU transport needs. R&I carried out under this Horizon 2020 initiative develops the necessary technology to complete the Single European Railway Area (SERA).

S2R is a public-private partnership in the form of a Joint Undertaking (JU), a platform for the rail sector as a whole to work together to drive innovation in the years to come until 2024. The S2R JU was created in June 2014 (Council Regulation (EU) No 642/2014) to play a major role in rail-related research and innovation, ensuring coordination among projects and providing all stakeholders with relevant and available information on projects funded across Europe. It shall also manage all rail-focused research and innovation actions co-funded by the Union.

It reached autonomy in May 2016, it is now fully operational.

Why act now?
Transport is the backbone of the European economy, bringing growth, jobs and prosperity. For example, railway transport related products account for more than 20% of EU exports of goods and 8% of EU exports of services. For centuries, the railway has been the backbone of transport, instrumental in the different industrial revolutions.

With the evolving societal challenges, the other modes of transport have overshadowed the intrinsic attractiveness and competitiveness of the rail transport mode.

Today, although the railway remains at the heart of transport, it needs radical change to bring back its unique role to the forefront and as a backbone of future digital sustainable mobility-to meet the expectations of citizens, to connect people, business, and regions, and to make Europe a global hub for mobility and prosperity.

The 2015 Shift2Rail Master Plan, adopted by the Council, identifies eight key challenges being faced by the European Rail sector:

  • Strengthening the role of rail in the European transport system and the global competitiveness of European industry;
  • Quality of service;
  • Cost;
  • Integrating the European market;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Competitiveness;
  • Skills;
  • Innovation.
Strategic Objectives

The vision of the S2R Partnership is


Addressing the challenges opens three opportunities for the railway:

  1. To become the backbone of current and future mobility concepts (e.g. mobility as a service-MaaS) and on demand future logistics;
  2. To identify and establish new market segments for exploitation;
  3. To enhance the overall competitiveness of the industry, both in Europe and globally.

This is what Council Regulation No. 642/2014 tasks the S2R JU to do when requesting it to manage all rail-focused research and innovation actions co-funded by the European Union.

More specifically, S2R seeks to develop, integrate, demonstrate, and validate innovative technologies and solutions that uphold the strictest safety standards and the value of which can be measured by the following key performance indicators:

  • 100% increase in rail capacity, leading to increased user demand;
  • 50% increase in reliability, leading to improved quality of services;
  • 50% reduction in life-cycle costs, leading to enhanced competitiveness;
  • removal of remaining technical obstacles holding back the rail sector in terms of interoperability and efficiency;
  • reduction of negative externalities linked to railway transport, in particular noise, vibrations, emissions and other environmental impacts.
Programme organisation

In order to realise its vision, the railway needs to establish and develop a range of new Innovation Capabilities (see S2R Multi-Annual Action Plan Part A

Developing the Innovation Capabilities requires a coordinated effort among different rail and non-rail stakeholders to drive innovation at many levels in Europe. The S2R JU and its about 1 billion euros Programme ( ) are designed to make a decisive contribution to delivering the essential knowledge and innovation that will provide the building blocks to develop the Innovation Capabilities.

The work conducted within the S2R framework is structured around five asset-specific Innovation Programmes (IPs), covering the different structural (technical) and functional (process) sub-systems of the rail system. These five IPs are supported by work in five cross-cutting areas (CCA) covering themes that are of relevance to each of the projects and which address the interactions between the IPs and the different subsystems.

The practical demonstration of S2R R&I activities is being carried out using a combination of single technology demonstrators (TDs), integrated technology demonstrators (ITDs and the resulting Innovation Capabilities), and system platform demonstrators (SPDs).

The Shift2Rail Programme is ultimately designed to foster the introduction of better trains to the market (quieter, more comfortable, more dependable, etc.), which operate on an innovative rail network infrastructure reliably from the first day of service introduction, at a lower life-cycle cost, with more capacity to cope with growing passenger and freight mobility demand. All this is developed by European companies, thereby increasing their competitiveness in the global marketplace. It also contributes to the paradigm for the modal shift to attract users to rail. For EU passengers, this represents more travel options, more comfort and improved punctuality. For freight forwarders/shippers, rail freight offers a more cost-effective, punctual and traceable shipment option.

Bodies of the Joint Undertaking

The Shift2Rail JU Statutes envisage the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (JU) comprising the following four main bodies.

  • The Governing Board, which has the overall responsibility for the strategic orientation and the operations of the Shift2Rail JU and supervises the implementation of its activities.
  • The Executive Director, who is a member of staff of the JU and is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Shift2Rail JU.
  • The Scientific Committee, which advises on the scientific and technological priorities to be addressed in the Annual Work Plans (AWPs).
  • The States Representatives Group, representing EU Member States and countries associated with the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme; inter alia, this group produces opinions on the strategic orientations of the JU and on the links between Shift2Rail activities and relevant national or regional research and innovation programmes.

In addition to these four bodies, a specific advisory role and close cooperation with the European Union Agency for Railways, a User Requirements Working Group and an Implementation and Deployment Working Group, a System Integration Working Group to ensure coordination between the activities of each IP Steering Committees.


The Founding Members of the Joint Undertaking are the European Union plus eight representatives of the rail industry, including rail equipment manufacturers Alstom, Ansaldo STS, Bombardier, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), Siemens and Thales as well as infrastructure managers Network Rail and Trafikverket. Next to these Founding Members, there are 19 additional members of the Joint Undertaking (Associated Members), selected through an open call for membership, gathering 62 companies and research organisations.

See all the Shift2Rail Joint Undertakings Members on this link.

For further information, reference documents are available on the Shift2Rail website.


Type of funding
Public (EU)
Programme funding arrangements and funding conditions

Each year Shift2Rail issues calls for proposals following the Rules of participation of H2020, containing dedicated funding for Members and non-Members of the Joint Undertaking. It also regularly launch call for tenders and procurements.

To find funding opportunities and detailed conditions please check:

Total Budget: 

€ 920 million for the 2014-2020 period of the H2020 Framework Programme.

Total Budget
€920 million


Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking
Organisation Website
Programme Website

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