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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:
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
Number of projects:
Projects covered: 

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.

In addition, there are several Shift2Rail tenders supporting R&I activities on different topics such as human capital, definition of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for CCA and pantograph to support the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA). Details on Shift2Rail JU tenders are available here.  

Projects are carried out by a total of 278 companies and research organisations from 25 European countries.

Innovation Programme 1: Cost-effective and reliable trains, including high capacity trains and high-speed trains

Innovation Programme 2: Advanced traffic management and control systems

Innovation Programme 3: Cost-efficient, sustainable and reliable high-capacity infrastructure

Innovation Programme 4: IT solutions for attractive railway services

Innovation Programme 5: Technologies for sustainable and attractive European freight

Cross-Cutting Activities:

Innovation Programme X:

Project Profiles:
  1. Advanced Signalling, Automation and Communication System (IP2 and IP5) – Prototyping the future by means of capacity increase, autonomy and flexible communication
  2. Advanced Travel Companion and Tracking Services
  3. ASTRail - SAtellite-based Signalling and Automation SysTems on Railways along with Formal Method and Moving Block validation
  4. Automated Rail Cargo Consortium: Rail freight automation research activities to boost levels of quality, efficiency and cost effectiveness in all areas of rail freight operations
  5. Blockchains as a distributed ledger for attribution of RCM data in rail
  6. CO-modal journey re-ACcommodation on associated Travel serVices
  7. COHErent Setup and Demonstration of Integrated Travel SerVices
  8. Communication Systems for Next-generation Railways
  9. Connecting and Analysing the Digital Transport Ecosystem
  10. CONtributing to Shift2Rail's NExt generation of high Capable and safe TCMS and brAkes. Phase 1.
  11. CONtributing to Shift2Rail's NExt generation of high Capable and safe TCMS. PhAse 2.
  12. Cybersecurity in the RAILway sector
  13. Decision supporting tools for implementation of cost-efficient railway noise abatement measures
  14. Development of Functional Requirements for Sustainable and Attractive European Rail Freight
  16. Energy harvesTing for signAlLing and cOmmunicatioN systems
  17. Enhancing railway signalling systems based on train satellite positioning, on-board safe train integrity, formal methods approach and standard interfaces, enhancing Traffic Management System functions
  18. Flexible medium voltage DC electric railway systems
  19. Future challenges for the rail sector
  20. Future Freight Loco for Europe
  21. Future Improvement for Energy and Noise
  22. Future Secure and Accessible Rail Stations
  23. Global Safety Management Framework for RAIL Operations
  24. GNSS Automated Virtualized Test Environment for RAIL
  25. Governance of the Interoperability Framework for Rail and Intermodal Mobility
  26. IN2DREAMS (INtelligent solutions 2ward the Development of Railway Energy and Asset Management Systems in Europe)
  27. Indicator Monitoring for a new railway PAradigm in seamlessly integrated Cross modal Transport chains – Phase 1
  28. Indicator Monitoring for a new railway PAradigm in seamlessly integrated Cross modal Transport chains – Phase 2
  29. Information Technologies for Shift to Rail
  30. Innovative Intelligent Rail
  31. INNOvative monitoring and predictive maintenance solutions on lightweight WAGon
  32. Innovative RUNning gear soluTiOns for new dependable, sustainable, intelligent and comfortable RAIL vehicles
  33. Innovative Solutions in Future Stations, Energy Metering and Power Supply
  34. Innovative technical solutions for improved train DYNAmics and operation of longer FREIGHt Trains
  35. Intelligent Innovative Smart Maintenance of Assets by integRated Technologies
  36. IP1 Traction TD1 and Brakes TD5 – Phase 1
  37. IP1 Traction TDI and Brakes TD5 - Phase 2
  38. MAke RAil The HOpe for protecting Nature 2 future OPERATION
  39. Mat4Rail
  40. Modelling and strategies for the assessment and OPtimisation of Energy USage aspects of rail innovation
  41. MOving block and VIrtual coupling New Generations of RAIL signalling
  42. Multi-scale observation and monitoring of railway infrastructure threats
  43. My TRAvel Companion
  44. New Dependable Rolling Stock for a More Sustainable, Intelligent and Comfortable Rail Transport in Europe
  45. Optimised Real-time Yard and Network Management
  46. Passenger service platform specifications for an enhanced multi-modal transport eco-system including Mobility as a Service (MaaS)
  47. Performance improvement for vehicles on track
  48. Real-time information applications and energy efficient solutions for rail freight
  49. Research into enhanced tracks, switches and structures
  50. SAFE architecture for Robust distributed Application Integration in roLling stock
  51. Semantic Transformations for Rail Transportation
  52. Semantics for PerfoRmant and scalable INteroperability of multimodal Transport
  53. Shift2Rail IP4 enabling Mobility as a Service and seamless passenger experience
  54. Smart Automation of Rail Transport
  55. Smart Maintenance and the Rail Traveller Experience
  56. Smart Planning and Safety for a safer and more robust European railway sector
  57. Smart Supply Chain Oriented Rail Freight Services – Smart-Rail
  58. Start-up activities for Advanced Signalling and Automation Systems
  59. Switch and Crossing Optimal Design and Evaluation
  60. Transversal Exploratory Research Activities for Railway
  61. Virtualisation of the testing environment
Contact Name: 
Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking
Av. De la Toison d’Or, 56-60
Contact country: