Rail is vital to the well-being of Europe’s society and the strength of its economy. To maintain and develop this role in the future, the sector has identified the significant challenges that it needs to meet to protect the social, economic and environmental fabric of society and develop rail as a transport mode.

In collaboration with a significant number of stakeholder groups, the rail sector tonight (26 February 2013) launches its pan-sector long term vision for rail. Entitled Challenge 2050, this is the European rail sector’s shared perception of where the rail system could be by 2050.

Challenge 2050 sets out to orient and guide the railway sector, as well as policy makers and other stakeholders, to enable the innovation and investment on which sustainable mobility in Europe depends.

The document takes account of the European Commission’s 2011 White Paper on Transport but also identifies a significant set of business challenges and makes a commitment to addressing them. It takes cognisance of the Shift²Rail initiative and it is anticipated that this document will be a useful focus for the development of ideas for future innovation through the EU Framework Programme “Horizon 2020” either as direct projects or via ERRAC and its RailRoute 2050 and the FOSTERRAIL project.

It is intended to encourage delivery of a business-led vision for the sector as a whole, describe how rail will meet the challenges of the modern rail era and to describe the role rail should play in the development of Europe as a global region.

It identifies a significant number of goals that are complementary to the vision and which will support a rail system that is responsive to the needs of Europe’s citizens.