Shift2Rail: the joint undertaking to build the railway system of tomorrow


Shift2Rail is the first large-scale European rail research joint undertaking (JU) created to coordinate focused research and innovation (R&I) projects and generate market-driven solutions by accelerating the integration of new and advanced technologies into cutting-edge rail products.

This Public-Private Partnership endeavours to boost the European rail industry’s competitiveness and meet the European Union’s changing transport needs. R&I initiatives carried out within this Horizon2020-funded programme create the necessary technologies to help complete the Single European Railway Area (SERA).

Shift2Rail aims to double the capacity of the European rail system and increase its reliability and service quality by 50%, while halving lifecycle costs. To meet these ambitious targets, it has a robust framework and a sizeable multiannual budget of €920mn, jointly funded by the private sector (€470mn) and the EU (€450mn). Shift2Rail R&I activities seek to achieve the programme’s overall objectives by working on new technologies that will be tested and applied across the entire rail system and on all segments of the rail market, such as High-Speed/Mainline, Regional, Urban/Suburban, and Freight platforms. To achieve such system-wide developments, the work is organised into five Innovation Programmes (IPs) and several Cross-Cutting Activities (CCAs).

Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking members engage in annual calls for proposals, or Calls for Members (CFMs), addressing the five IPs and CCAs intended at accomplishing Shift2Rail goals set in the Multi-Annual Action Plan (MAAP). In addition to these CFMs, the Joint Undertaking offers all interested stakeholders not directly involved in the Public-Private Partnership ,referred to as non-JU members, the opportunity to participate in competitive Open Calls which are issued in parallel to the CFMs. Their purpose is to contribute to the work planned in the S2R MAAP and not directly handled by members.

For more information on Shift2Rail, please visit the programme’s website.

UNIFE involvement in the creation of Shift2Rail

Following on research carried out by UNIFE and its members on other major EU transport rail initiatives such as CleanSky and SESAR, our association played a major role in the creation of Shift2Rail as the coordinator of the entire preparatory phase from its 2009 conception to its formal adoption by the EU Institutions in June 2014. Specifically, UNIFE organised the in-depth input of hundreds of engineers and produced a detailed Technical Proposal that was submitted to the European Commission in 2013. Throughout that year and 2014, UNIFE also led and participated in national information events in 24 EU Member States intended to demonstrably increase the number of stakeholders involved in the technical working groups of this preparatory phase.

Finally, with the support of its members, UNIFE led the successful advocacy campaign to convince not only the European Commission but also the European Parliament and EU Member States to adopt the Regulation that would legally create the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking in June 2014.

UNIFE’s support to UNIFE Members with Shift2Rail Open calls

UNIFE is proactively involved in the annual Open Calls and will continue to support its members by playing three crucial roles:


UNIFE ensures the active involvement of its members in S2R open Calls proposals in order to strengthen the role of the EU Rail industry in the achievement of the S2R goals. UNIFE encourages the participation of its members by offering a platform for discussion and information exchange in order to help with the preparation of their proposals. UNIFE provides its members with general information (financial, administrative, etc.) to support them during the preparatory phase of the S2R Open Calls.


Leaning on its significant experience in European research and its robus stakeholder network (including for exampl, Operators, Infrastructure managers, Industry, Academia, Research Institutes, ERRAC etc.). UNIFE facilitates communication/work channels between its members and other stakeholders interested in the Open Calls. On its members’ behalf, UNIFE collaborates with other key European rail sector actors for the submission of joint proposals.


UNIFE will directly participate in relevant Open Calls, either as coordinator or partner and will promote the involvement of its members. As coordinator, UNIFE will be responsible for preparation and submission of the proposals with the support of the consortia partners. As partner, UNIFE will contribute to the preparation of the proposals by bringing its extensive expertise.

UNIFE’s support to UNIFE Members with Shift2Rail Open calls

For more information, please contact:
Technical Affairs
Nicolas Furio Technical Affairs

Nicolas Furio

Head of Unit - Technical Affairs +32 2 626 12 62 Read more
Share This