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Looking towards the future at the International Railway Summit – Key rail players meet in Paris to come up with a vision for the future rail systems

Over three days, senior executives representing the world’s rail operators, infrastructure managers, rolling stock manufacturers, national and local governments and technical experts brainstormed on future solutions for a competitive railway transport system.

Shift2Rail (S2R) took part as the first and unique European Railway Research and Innovation Programme, contributing to the future agenda, through railway sector concrete innovative solutions co-funded by S2R through the H2020 Programme. Carlo Borghini, the Executive Director of the S2R JU, spoke at the International Railway Summit, powered by the International Railway Journal in Paris on 16 February 2017.

    “Innovation, through communication, automation, digitalisation hooking up on the fast developments on artificial intelligence is”, according to Carlo, “the necessary step the sector has to take to ensure user-centred mobility as a service, for passengers and freight; it should come together with the industry evolution towards a new business model underpinning its attractiveness and competitiveness”.

Hosting the event, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of the International Union of Railways (UIC) highlighted the main challenges for the railway sector, setting a good base for the participants ‘interventions:

  • A genuine multimodal system rationalising available funding for a truly seamless offer for the passengers;
  • Transcontinental corridors for freight, cutting by half the time of the journey for the same freight load;
  • The technological revolution that will increase safety, performance, capacity and speed, reaching a level where connected passengers are real actors of their journey;
  • Decarbonisation; improving performance will contribute to the COP 21 objectives placing rail transport at the head of the environmentally sound transport systems.

Railway research and innovation is therefore essential to contribute achieving the goals of the 4th Railway Package. Closing his intervention, Jean-Pierre introduced his 5 I’s, as ‘there is no infrastructure without investment, no investment without innovation, no innovation without intelligence and no intelligence without integration’.

In different ways, key speakers and players participating to the event, such as Guillaume Pepy, President of SNCF, the Director General of UNIFE, the Secretary General of UITP, the EU Agency for Railways, and many more, converged on the idea of focused innovation to foster railway mobility. This will be implemented in the different segments, to connect people, regions, cities, and businesses, supporting the socioeconomic objectives both at the Union and at the global level.