The European Commission has established a new public-private partnership, called SHIFT²RAIL, to invest around €1bn in research and innovation to enhance rail transport and freight in Europe.

The new partnership aims to enhance the capacity of the European rail system to meet growing passenger demand, as well as increasing the reliability and quality of rail services, and reducing the lifecycle cost of the overall system.

With SHIFT²RAIL, the commission will triple its funding to €450m for 2014-20. The European rail industry will add a further €470m to the partnership.

The investment will be co-financed by the EU and the private sector under the Horizon2020 budget across the seven-year lifespan of the partnership.

"This investment will allow for a major industrial effort."

The European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) will play an important role in the partnership.

European rail industry association UNIFE director-general Philippe Citroën said: "SHIFT²RAIL will bring together on a large scale for the first time in our history, industry, railway undertakings, urban operators, infrastructure managers, SMEs, research centres and academia from all over the European Union to solve our collective transport challenges."

European commissioner for research Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "This investment will allow for a major industrial effort, combining public and private funding from throughout the whole rail sector.

"This is a perfect demonstration of the leverage effect of the EU budget for growth and jobs."

Image: The partnership is aimed to to get more passengers and freight onto Europe’s railways. Photo: courtesy of European Commission.