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Innovation Programme 1

Projects in this IP Technological Demonstrators in this IP


The design of rolling stock plays a key role for the attractiveness of rail transport. Passengers will only prefer to use rail transport over other modes if trains are comfortable, reliable, affordable and accessible. At the same time, the train design must meet the requirements of the railway undertakings and the urban operators (who are the main customers of the rail supply industry), in order to deliver high-quality and cost-efficient services to their customers.

A combination of rail customers’ ever-evolving requirements for rail passenger vehicles is generating a new wave of challenges to rail vehicle development: quality of service, time constraints, mounting energy costs, more stringent emission standards, and increasing stress on the economics of rail operation.

If rail is to compete more effectively with other modes and attract more passengers in the future, it needs a future generation of passenger trains that will be lighter and more energy- and cost-efficient, while at the same time providing a comfortable, safe and affordable travel experience for all passengers.

These innovations should therefore not be limited to the traditional, incremental approach to vehicle development, but should also derive from an entirely new way of thinking on product development.

In order to introduce the future generation of passenger trains, an innovative system approach is needed which includes the development of innovative and modular solutions for comfortable and attractive trains. Other important parts of the holistic passenger train concept are the development and integration of higher-performance technologies for traction and critical structural components, command-control and cabin environment applications, and flexible, reliable and safe design and production solutions. At the same time, innovative solutions need to be developed to extend vehicle lifetime, simplify retrofitting and ensure that networks can support the operation of these vehicles.

IP1 Innovations and Ambitions

Work will be organised around the following Technical Demonstrators (TDs), covering all the R&I areas indicated in the Shift2Rail Master Plan: Traction, Train Control and Monitoring System, Car body shell, Running Gear, Brakes, Doors and intelligent access systems and Train interiors.

  • Traction system (TD 1.1) will develop new traction components and subsystems using mainly silicon carbide (SiC) technologies which lead to new architectures. The work will produce TDs (including a traction system based on independently rotating wheels) to implement into a Metro, a Regional train and a High-Speed Train.
  • Train control and monitoring system (TCMS) (TD 1.2). The development of a new-generation TCMS will allow current bottlenecks caused by physically coupled trains to be overcome. The new drive-by-data concept for train control, along with wireless information transmission, aims to make new control functions possible; it involves interaction between vehicles and consists, with high safety and reliability levels, through very simple physical architectures.
  • The new generation of car body shells (TD 1.3) using composite or other lightweight materials will be a step change in the sector, leading to significantly lighter vehicles that carry more passengers within the same axle load constraints, use less energy and have a reduced impact on rail infrastructure.
  • Running gear (TD 1.4) will develop innovative combinations of new architectural concepts, new actuators in new lighter materials leading to new functionalities, and significantly improved performance levels with the possibility of vibration energy recovery. A mechatronic bogie able to steer through points and crossings will open huge possibilities for a new design philosophy in collaboration with IP3.
  • New braking systems (TD 1.5) with higher brake rates and lower noise emissions will provide major capacity gains in terms of mass and volume in bogies, paving the way for a fresh revisit of bogie design. When these are combined with traction innovations, the next generation of passenger rolling stock will be able to offer improvements in acceleration and deceleration rates, leading to greater overall line capacity for trains.
  • Innovative doors (TD 1.6) aim to move away from current access solutions based on honeycomb and aluminium or steel sheets; their drawbacks relate to energy consumption, and noise and thermal transmission. New lightweight composite structures could be made to react faster at existing safety and reliability levels, reducing platform dwell times and increasing overall line capacity. Customer-friendly information systems and improved access for people with reduced mobility using sensitive edges and light curtains are part of this new development.
  • Train modularity in use (TD 1.7) will develop new modular concepts for train interiors that allow operators to adapt the vehicle layout to the actual usage conditions, and will improve passenger flows, thus optimising both the capacity of the vehicle and dwell times.
  • Heating, Ventilation, Air conditioning and Cooling (HVAC) systems (TD1.8) will help limiting the climatic impact from these systems within rail vehicles by helping develop systems using natural refrigerants such as air or CO2. These HVAC units will be ready for application within new trains and for the refurbishment of existing ones. The work will also focus on activities for the pre-standardisation of mechanical, electrical and control interfaces of HVAC units as well as on fundamental work on alternative refrigerants.

A more global view on functional interactions existing between TDs is shown in the figure below, which highlights not only the technological but also the functional interdependencies between TDs, IPs and cross-cutting activities.

The ‘Indicative list of priority research and innovation activities’ in the draft Shift2Rail strategic Multi-Annual Action Plan is available in the Reference Documents > Shift2Rail JU Documents section.