France welcomes EU rail innovation project (December 18, 2013)
Mme Fioraso, the Minister of Higher Education and Research, M. Cuvillier, the Minister Delegate for Transport, Marine Affairs and Fisheries, and M. Repentin, the Minister Delegate for European Affairs, welcome the European Commission’s adoption today of its proposal aimed at creating a joint technology initiative at European level in the field of rail innovation, thus recognizing the strategic nature of this sector for European competitiveness.
The three ministers have high hopes for this new public-private initiative, known as Shift²Rail, which will enable us to develop these vital new technologies in the coming years in order to maintain the French and European rail industry’s leading world position. Innovation in this sector is all the more important because it brings jobs and helps make rail transport ever more attractive to everyone. Shift²Rail will build on the joint technology initiatives existing or being adopted in other sectors.
The French government knows what major challenges competitiveness and internationalization currently are for French companies – particularly SMEs – and for universities and research centres. With R&D activities amounting to more than €1 billion being generated in the coming years – jointly financed by the EU and industry –, Shift²Rail will be a crucial instrument for taking up these challenges in the rail industry.
The three ministers also welcome the unprecedented financial commitment of major French groups, following the examples of Alstom and Thales, to this initiative.
They welcome the presence of many French stakeholders, including SNCF and Faiveley, at the heart of a major technical preparation effort coordinated by UNIFE, the Association of the European Rail Industry. Finally, they more than ever encourage all stakeholders in France to take part in implementing this new programme, on which there will have to be prior political agreement at the level of the European Parliament and the council of the 28 European transport ministers.
France has bold ambitions for all joint technology initiatives and will continue to give powerful support to this future project, as it has done tirelessly over recent months.
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