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Problems to Be Solved - Collective Technology to Join Europe's Railways

Freight transport by train through Europe is a challenge. Regulatory standards and technological standards that differe between countries create major problems and an inefficient transport system. To reverse the trend, cross-border collaboration is a needed. 'Increasing the capacity for sustainable and competitive freight transport by rail requires the cooperation of the whole industry, and internationally," says Lena Erixon, Director General at the Swedish Transport Administration.

The EU is investing almost SEK 10 billion in rail research in the Shift2Rail project, which should strengthen industry and develop the rail system in Europe. The Swedish part of the project is managed by the Swedish Transport Administration with the support of CLOSER at Lindholmen Science Park

-"The industry has struggled for a long time. Innovation has lagged, and regulations and technological standards entailed expensive and complicated rail stops at national borders. Initiatives such as Shift2Rail are a necessity for gathering European train operators together around a common vision, "says Bo Olsson,  Shift2Rail programme manager for the Swedish Transport Administration.

Smart cameras

Within Shift2Rail, new technologies are being developed with the aim of establishing uniform so that freight trains run throughout Europe. For example, intelligent gates have been developed for railyards with smart cameras and sensors in order to eliminated time-consuming manual registration at the terminals. Instead, everything should proceed automatically and be displayed digitally in real time.

Shared developmental costs

The new technologies are being developed in collaboration between state-owned companies, competing companies and suppliers from throughout Europe, where the operators themselves account for just over half of the development cost. The remaining part is paid by the EU research programme.

-"With combined forces, modern technology and new structures can develop in the same way throughout the whole continent. Without the EU's financial backing, new technology for broad-based implementation would not have been developed, because it is impossible for individual countries or companies to carry out such an initiative on their own. International collaboration benefits both Swedish and European infrastructure," says Nicklas Blidberg, project manager, CLOSER.

-"As a participant in the EU's Shift2Rail research programme, we contribute to and benefit from the goal of strengthening industry, creating jobs and developing a sustainable, interconnected European rail system," says Lena Erixon, Director General of the Swedish Transport Administration.

From Road to Rail

Shift2Rail's development has progressed rapidly since the start of the project in 2016 and the results so far are relatively strong.

-"I believe that several of the project's technologies will be used widely in the market within the next five years. Thanks to the project, we will contribute to the European goal of shifting freight transport from road to rail," Nicklas Blidberg says.