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Shift2Rail Opening Ceremony: The future of railways starts here

The Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (S2R JU) had a strong presence in its first appearance at InnoTrans, the largest rail fair in the world – presenting the first results of the initiative, barely two years since its inception. From 18 to 21 September 2018, Shift2Rail presented 20+ demonstrators, the building blocks to develop the next generation of railway systems in Europe.

Watch the video here: Shift2Rail at InnoTrans 2018.  

Commissioner for Mobility and Transport Violeta Bulc and German Federal Minister for Transport Andreas Scheuer were the first guests to visit the Shift2Rail stand as part of the InnoTrans opening tour.

Joined by a crowd of about 150 people, Ms Bulc and Mr Scheuer witnessed the presentation of the Shift2Rail wireless connected trams demonstrator. Broadcast live from Zaragoza, Spain, engineers showed how two trams could move in a coordinated manner without any physical link at a constant distance of about 6 metres, powered by ‘virtual coupling’ technology. Watch the video here.

Ms Bulc also directly experienced the demonstrator by controlling the trams’ destination displays from a tablet – more than 2,000 km away from the actual vehicles.

At the opening, members of the JU presented several other demonstrators in different areas: noise mitigation, energy smart metering, a new ecosystem for easy multi-modal travel booking, an obstacle detection device and a new digital brake test system, among others.

“In two years, you have proved the concept and shown that we were right to support [Shift2Rail]. We want to see railways taking the lead and continue being the real backbone of the European transport area. For that, we need a lot of innovation”, said Ms Bulc. “Innovation is expensive, that is why we need to cooperate and join forces in order to get return on investment as quickly as possible and in the most efficient way”.

Following this encouraging statement, Ms Bulc presented the Shift2Rail Women in Rail and R&I Awards, acknowledging the best projects in the Shift2Rail initiative. The opening ceremony was then concluded by Shift2Rail JU and the South East Europe Strategic Alliance for Rail Innovation (SEESARI) signing a Cooperation Agreement at Shift2Rail’s stand with SEESARI Chairman, Peter Verlič from Slovenian Railways and Director of the SZ Transport Research Institute. Check out the article and video on the SEESARI website.

“Being able to show this progress to Commissioner Bulc, Minister Scheuer as well as company directors, engineers and students from all over Europe has been a real key moment. I hope that we have showed to the world the capacity of the European rail sector to make a major system transformation and the impact that the European Union can have when sectors join forces. All this is the result of the commitment of Shift2Rail Members”, said Shift2Rail Executive Director Carlo Borghini.

Throughout the four days that lasted InnoTrans, researchers involved in Shift2Rail projects presented more than 20 demonstrators, in front of thousands of visitors. In total, more than 160,000 professionals visited InnoTrans 2018.

With the 2020 edition of InnoTrans in mind, Shift2Rail-funded researchers are already working to develop these solutions further and much more. “We want to pave the way for the deployment of innovative solutions in the market’’, said Mr Borghini. “We have not showed you everything in this fair, we are working hard on many other technologies and bridging the gap between ideas on paper and innovation. I think InnoTrans 2020 can be a very good platform to test ourselves and demonstrate where we are”, concluded Head of Research and Innovation at Shift2Rail, Mr Giorgio Travaini.


Interactive zone for live demonstrators at Shift2Rail stand, InnoTrans 2018