The European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) was one of the first technology platforms to be set up back in 2001 and covers research related to all types of freight and passenger rail services (long, medium and short distances, i.e. urban rail). The ERRAC SSA project was designed to support the work of the ERRAC Advisory Council.
The objective of the ERRAC SSA was to support the activities of ERRAC, which are:
- to promote rail research and innovation in a close link with investment in rail infrastructures in an enlarged Europe,
- to co -ordinate pre-competitive research schemes by promoting collaboration and consistency between the various EU, National and industry rail research programmes,
- to adjust and update the Strategic Rail Research Agenda (released in 2002) as well as the ERRAC RBS 2020 (Research Business Scenario 2020), and
- to improve joint project building process within the rail sector.
The goal of the ERRAC SSA was not to duplicate the efforts made by the sector during the period 2002-2004 but to go further in effectively implementing the recommendations produced by the present ERRAC Working Groups.
The ERRAC members also carried out co-operative studies to acquire the necessary information on existing and planned research, on key factors affecting sustainable development of rail transport at the European level and beyond the EU borders and the resulting technological needs taking into account the potential of new and emerging technologies also outside sector. Specific emphasis were put on two issues previously not considered in ERRAC activities, however of big importance because they constrain innovation:
- the economic dimension of the innovation (migration costs of new technologies, innovation process in the rail sector compared to other industry and non-European countries) and
- the socio-economic dimension of innovation in rail (customer acceptance, socio-cultural factors of rail transportation, impact of opening markets, new trends in transportation market), which are the drivers of the innovation in the industry.
The work under the reporting period included:
- Publication of 'Rail 21 - Sustainable rail systems for a connected Europe'. This brochure was presented to the EU Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik at the UNIFE Annual Reception in Brussels on the 8th of March 2006. 'Rail21' set five broad targets for the Seventh Framework Programme (2007-2013).
- Starting of the ERRAC communications WG, to set up and implement the ERRAC communications Action Plan and to organise a number of dissemination events have, among which a high-level event with members of the European parliament.
- Preparation of a study on regional railways. This sector is little known to decision-makers and its research needs are not known at all. The study concerns infrastructure and operations of the regional railways, including investigation of their research needs.
- Set up a 'Coordination' Working Group, dealing with knowledge management, coordination between national research initiatives and the SRRA as well as project building, and an 'evaluation' Working Group, dealing with listing and evaluating (almost) finalised European research projects. With this, in fact an additional objective for ERRAC was added: 'Evaluation of effectiveness of research in terms of actual use of its results'.
- Set up working Groups to deliver the RBS update as well as the SRRA update.
Some of the important events, where ERRAC Communications WG planned to actively present ERRAC activities were:
- 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.
- Update of Rail Business Scenario;
- Results achieved by the Communications Group:
- Establishment of the Communications Group;
- Preparation of the Communications Action Plan;
- Preparation of the European Parliament Information Seminar held on 12October 2005 in Brussels which attracted nearly 100 participants;
- Significant contribution of the Group to the preparation of Rail21brochure, presented to Commissioner Potocnik in March 2006- Preparation of a new 2006 ERRAC leaflet;
- Preparation of an ERRAC poster;
- Maintaining and regular updating of the public website;
- Presence at international events: UITP World Congress (June 2005), Eurailspeed 2005 (November 2005);
- Significant contribution to the preparation of Rail21 brochure, presented to Commissioner Potocnik on the 8th of March 2006, organisation of its launch and writing, and distribution of the press release;
- Publication of the Suburban and Regional Railways Landscape in Europe in October 2006;
- Preparation of an ERRAC poster for Budapest;
- Preparation and publication of a new ERRAC leaflet;
- Preparation of an article for International Railway Journal (June edition,Montreal World Congress on Rail Research);
- Publication of the updated Strategic Rail Research Agenda in January2007;
- Organization of the launch event for the updated SRRA on 27 June 2007 and the preparation and distribution of the press release;
- Maintaining and regular updating of the public website;
- Presence at international events: UITP World Congress (June 2007).
- Results achieved by the Coordination Working Group and Evaluation Working Group:
- update of the survey of member state research. The focus of this work stream was around how best to build and coordinate project proposals. Furthermore, contacts have been made with ERANET, national Rail Technology Platforms developing, such as the Polish National rail Technology Platform, that of The Netherlands and the DG TREN’s Transport Knowledge Research Centre.
- the Working Group for the Evaluation tasks was also established. Members of the evaluation group worked individually to find facts supporting the evaluation. The WG Evaluation, in a substantial number of meetings, reviewed and analysed more than 12 EU Framework Program projects using a check-list, specially designed for this evaluation. This check-list is