Horizon 2020: a look at the EU’s flagship rail projects

As it reaches its final year, Horizon 2020 continues to support research and innovation projects across the European Union. How has it helped advance the bloc’s rail infrastructure, what have its successes been and what more can be expected? Andrew Tunnicliffe finds out.

All images courtesy of Deutsche Bahn


ou’d be forgiven for thinking the European Union’s (EU) largest-ever funding programme was winding up. Not so, in fact as recently as early December parties were being invited to apply for funding for new projects. From energy to healthcare, technology to agriculture, sectors across the Union of been benefiting from the financial support available as part of this multi-billion euro initiative. Transportation has played a major part since the initiative began in 2014 and is seemingly a key component in the future societal and economic development of the EU.

Heralding research as an investment in the future, the EU said: “The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.” The question now, as the curtain slowly lowers, what impact has it really had?

Europe’s rail infrastructure and how it operates has been of interest to the continent’s political leaders, first under the European Economic Community and later the EU, for many decades. That interest manifested itself under railway directives and later “Packages” intended to help modernise the way the network of standalone infrastructure is managed and integrated. It reaches beyond legal frameworks and formed a significant part of the Horizon 2020 programme.

To find out more about some of the biggest rail projects that have received funding from the Horizon 2020 programme, click the icons below.