• The goal is to increase the capacity of the railway system by 15%, improve punctuality of the vehicles by 50%, and reduce energy use by 30% and costs by 40%.
  • The project, worth €16M, gathers the leading European manufacturers

The European Union (EU) is determined to revolutionise rail transport, encourage the use of trains and heighten the competitiveness of the rail industry. To achieve these goals, it has launched an ambitious project, Roll2Rail, which involves Basque technology centre IK4-IKERLAN and CAF as the project's technical leader.

Roll2Rail is a market-oriented R&D project that will integrate key advanced technologies into innovative solutions for the rail industry. It will research and develop cutting-edge technologies to increase the capacity of the railway system by 15% and punctuality by 50%, reduce energy consumption by 30% and manufacturing costs by 40%, achieve lower railway noise levels, and improve passenger comfort and safety.

CAF and IK4-IKERLAN will be part of a consortium including the sector's leading manufacturers and agencies, coordinated by the Association of the European Rail Industry (UNIFE). The project, which has recently got under way and will unfold for the next two years and a half, is budgeted at €16M, to be contributed by the Horizon 2020 R&D support programme. The Roll2Rail project was selected for the Mobility for Growth strategy.

EU bid on rail innovation

The EU is interested in developing an innovative rail transport system to improve mobility in Europe. The rail industry is a strategic sector, as trains are a highly efficient way of carrying passengers and goods with a low environmental impact.

Furthermore, the sector is expected to grow fast at the global level over the next few years. In order to strengthen the position of European companies in this competitive industry, the EU decided to provide funding to R&D projects.

An ambitious project

The areas that need further development in rolling stock for the future have been identified and work packages were established for them, each headed by a leading company. Some of the areas to be addressed are traction using semiconductors, wireless control and monitoring systems, brakes, composite train body, next-generation bogies, and passenger car interior design and comfort.

The work package headed by CAF with participation of IK4-IKERLAN covers wireless communication. Its main goal is to carry out research into robust wireless communication technologies for train control and monitoring.

In addition to making railway coupling more flexible, wireless solutions will greatly simplify the wiring and draft gear. They will also add flexibility in operations, which will lead to lighter, more reliable trains, as well as to simpler manufacturing processes and maintenance services.

Traction systems and robust wireless control and monitoring systems play a key strategic role in the rail industry. IK4-IKERLAN has broad experience in researching and developing technologies in these strategic fields.

Coordinated participation

The coordinated participation of CAF and IK4-IKERLAN in this project is part of their ongoing cooperation, which places them in the vanguard of technology for the development of state-of-the-art products to add to the CAF catalogue.

According to the project's manager at IK4-IKERLAN, Carlos Canto, 'the fact that the EU has named CAF as the technical head of the Roll2Rail project and chosen IK4-IKERLAN to participate is a reward to the two organisations' backgrounds and capabilities.'

'To IK4-IKERLAN, this project offers a great opportunity, as we will cooperate with CAF as well as with other leading companies and agencies in the European rail sector,' added the researcher at the technology centre.


Roll2Rail is included in the Shift2Rail joint undertaking for rail research, which groups together the most important European companies in the rail industry. Shift2Rail, a joint technology initiative that promotes European rail innovation, has just launched three projects: In2Rail, IT2Rail and Roll2Rail.

IT2Rail and Roll2Rail will be coordinated by UNIFE, whereas Network Rail, the UK Infrastructure Manager, will coordinate In2Rail.


IK4-IKERLAN is a leading centre for technology transfer and for enhancing business competitiveness through comprehensive solutions combining different technology domains. This is the result of its expertise in six broad areas, namely, embedded systems, power electronic converters, microtechnology, energy storage capacity and efficiency, product structure reliability and advanced manufacturing, as well as the national and international cooperation network that supplements the technology centre's services.

IK4-IKERLAN has as many as 200 highly qualified researchers who work in more than 120 R&D projects worth over €10M every year for businesses in the transport, power and capital good industries.

Project details

Name: New dependable rolling stock for a more sustainable, intelligent and comfortable rail transport in Europe, Roll2Rail
Funding organisation: European Union
Programme: Horizon 2020
Strategic objective: MG-2.3-2014 – New generation of rail vehicles
Contract No.: 636032
Project coordinator: UNIFE

Roll2Rail is a research and development project centred on technologies of the rolling stock for the future.
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