16 Sep 2013


Significant reductions in emissions due to transport are being demanded by governments and policy-makers, as well as by society. Reductions in the energy consumption of railway rolling stock are therefore an important objective. It is in this context of ‘lightweighting’ of rolling stock that the REFRESCO (full title: ‘Towards a REgulatory FRamework for the usE of Structural new materials in railway passenger and freight CarbOdyshells’) project has been conceived. New materials such as composites and light metallic alloys encourage hopes of the construction of lighter rolling stock, which will consume less energy and help reduce the emissions of rail transport. While composite materials have already been used in the manufacture of parts of rolling stock, there is currently no way to certify a rail vehicle built entirely or in large part from non-metallic materials.

The overall objective of REFRESCO is to set the framework for the implementation of new materials in the railway sector through the evolution of certification processes for rolling stock. REFRESCO will generate recommendations and provide the information needed to adapt the regulatory framework of railway carbody structures to the introduction of new materials.

Eighteen partners have come together to carry out this project, the vast majority of which were represented at the kick-off event which took place at the Thon Hotel Bristol Stephanie in Brussels. Among the REFRESCO consortium, there are many of the principal European rolling stock system integrators, and members of the rail supply industry, operators and material suppliers, while the university and research sectors are also represented. One of the largest certification companies in Europe is also a partner, while UIC joins UNIFE as a representative of its part of the sector as partners in REFRESCO.

The event was opened by Mr Massimo Marianeschi, General Manager of UNIFE, who expressed UNIFE’s recognition of the great efforts made by the partners in the preparation of the project. He told the consortium that he was looking forward to learning of the outputs of the project over the coming thirty months. Mr Marianeschi also thanked the European Commission, represented at the meeting by Mr Michal Klima of the Directorate General for Research and Innovation, for its collaboration in bringing the project to this point. Mr Klima spoke to the partners about the Commission’s expectations upon the project. These include preparing the ground for the implementation of lightweight rolling stock, which will lead towards a reduction in the energy consumption of rail transport in Europe. This should be a result, Mr Klima told the event, of the proposals that will come from the project for the evolution of the standardisation and regulatory framework for the use of new structural materials for railway rolling stock.

Both Mr Marianeschi and Mr Klima spoke about the importance of the project in light of its links with Shift2Rail, a proposal for an ambitious large-scale, industrially-driven and multi-annual research programme that aims to help EU rail industry to retain its world leadership. This is currently in the final preparation stage, with a final proposal to be submitted to the European Commission during the final months of 2013. Shift2Rail will be a public-private Joint Undertaking under Horizon 2020, with an estimated budget of between 800 million and 1 billion Euros over a six to seven year period.

REFRESCO is a project with a budget of approximately €4.6m and runs until the end of February 2016.

For further information on the project, please contact Ross Hanley, Project Coordinator at ross.hanley(at)

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