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Why the System Pillar is important for the European Railways

Whilst most individual railway systems have views of the future railway architecture, there is no common EU railway system view that is used today.  The railways have traditionally approached systems architecture following a national – even regional –technical approach, leading to a heterogeneous picture at European level. National markets for rail infrastructure and vehicles continue to exist in a way that has been overcome in other modes of transport or sectors. The problem with this is that innovations and changes to the system are very difficult and costly to achieve. Ultimately this undermines the performance and competitiveness of rail transportation.  The purpose of the System Pillar is to improve the European railway system to offer better services for European passengers and freight.

Factors driving this project include

  • Cost efficiency for integration, migration and deployment 
  • Cost efficiency for maintenance and evolution of the system  
  • Quicker roll-out of innovations  
  • Market accessibility (for equipment and service provision)  
  • Increase overall performance and agility of the railway including time, reliability and safety towards the customer through faster deployment of key new technologies  
  • Improved train service delivery across the European Union  
  • Facilitate rail as integral part of the mobility services across the European Union  
  • Manage diverse rail legacy, bringing interoperability and easing migration  
  • A sound, qualified and reliable supply chain.  

The System Pillar proposes to achieve this approach by

  • Defining a set of application profiles based on harmonized objectives and requirements and deriving harmonized operational processes, 
  • Using formal Model Based System Engineering approaches, as deployed since several decades in many industries such as automotive, aviation, defence, energy, IT, software, and telecoms, to frame the development of the rail system 
  • Harmonising this system architecture approach at European level, including operational rules, engineering rules and implementations.  

The opportunities that an evolution of the rail system based on common operational visions and a standardised modular architecture (as provided by the System Pillar) will enable are

  • Easier railway system innovations, as the System Pillar architecture will be designed to take full advantage of current innovations and technologies and allow easier evolution and modernisation at later stages  
  • Sustainability, including increased market penetration of rail services, both passenger and freight.  
  • Reduced costs and better amortisation of developments and innovations through economies of scale  
  • Reduced cost by reduction of solutions’ variances  
  • Achievement of interoperability in space and time, with a removal of operational and administrative borders, and Real time Traffic Management across EU, where national and international services across EU are made easier  
  • More flexible trains and services, enabling dynamic and mixed train formations and more efficient operation and timetabling  
  • Full end-to-end services and intermodality, and freedom for passengers and freight to travel at international level, i.e. the Single European Railway Area with end-to-end journeys, with through-ticketing, more efficient connection of the railway with other transport modes  
  • Improve the competitiveness of the European railway sector  

A successful implementation and development of the System Pillar will attain

  • The most efficient use of scarce resources (EU and Member States, rail sector, both financial and human capital), coordinating and consolidating initiatives under one umbrella. 
  • Alignment between public and private EU Research and Innovation initiatives with a long-term operational concept and system architecture, supporting interoperability, and to the legal and regulatory framework, to ensure a strategic plan for an overall harmonised approach.