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Designing the railway of the future: Fire resistant composite materials and smart modular design


General information

  • Call: H2020-S2RJU-OC-2017 Innovative materials & modular design for rolling stock applications.
  • reference: 777595
  • Approved: 28/09/2017
  • Duration: 01/10/2017-30/09/2019

Introduction and objectives

Europe’s railway industries require a step change in technologies and design for the next generation of rail vehicles in order to remain competitive globally. However, currently available structural composites do not meet Fire, Smoke & Toxicity requirements of the railway sector and thus cannot be used for the manufacturing of carbodyshell parts.

Innovative materials and modular design for rolling stock are considered to become key to success in Europe’s railway industries. Composite materials with their unique properties such as lightness or reparability have demonstrated a high potential for lighter, more energy- and cost-efficient structural components in relevant sectors such as aeronautic or automotive industries.

The overall aim of the Mat4Rail project is to lay the foundation for:

  • Reducing train weight by replacing metal parts with Fibre Reinforced Polymers (FRPs)
  • Increasing capacity and passenger comfort via built-in modularity of train interior design

Mat4Rail is divided into two work streams. The objectives of the Materials work stream are to develop FRPs that meet all the railway environment requirements regarding Fire, Smoke and Toxicity, mechanical performance and cost effective manufacturing, to developed structural joints for FRPs, and to innovate the access door system by reaching improvements in term of weight, acoustic attenuation, thermal performances and cost.

The Interior Design work stream is addressing the challenges and shortcomings of current rolling stock in terms of modularity in use to meet the changing passenger demand during the 30-40 years of an in-service operating life-cycle of a train. This work stream is aimed towards tackling this challenge in three distinct sub-systems: innovative plug & play systems, innovative seats and innovative driver’s desk.




MAT4RAIL is integrated by 16 partners from 7 European countries:

  • Universität Bremen, DE
  • Instituto Technológico de Aragón, ES
  • RISE Research Institutes of Sweden AB, SE
  • AIMPLAS Asociación de Investigación de Materials Plásticos y Conexas, ES
  • IMA Materialforschung und Anwendungstechnik GmbH, DE
  • Huntsman Advanced Materials GmbH, CH
  • Coexpair SA, BE
  • ASAŞ Alüminyum Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş., TR
  • NVGTR Gbr, DE
  • Spirit Design – Innovation and Brand GmbH, AT
  • ESCATEC Switzerland AG, CH
  • Grammer Railway Interior GmbH, DE
  • INDAT GmbH, AT
  • Accelopment AG, CH

The consortium of the Mat4Rail project comprises leading scientists from five research institutions, and market leaders from ten relevant industries and highly innovative SMEs. It assembles experts in engineering and materials research, as well as industrial and product design from seven European countries and enables an efficient industry-academia collaboration to make a significant contribution to the railway of the future.



ITAINNOVA will participate in WP3: Development of structural joints for railway applications, mainly in the tasks related with non-permanent techniques for joining dissimilar materials (metal-compositesplastics) allowing refitting operations, and in WP5: Access door systems, applying their expertise in product development and optimization, introduction of new materials and composites in new applications and joining/integration techniques. In particular, the team that will lead these activities has a relevant background in design, manufacturing, testing and assembly of hybrid metal-composite door leaves for railway vehicles and buses.


Call: H2020-S2RJU-OC-2017

Topic: Innovative materials & modular design for rolling stock applications

Work programme topic: Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking

Funding scheme: Research and Innovation Action


Horizon 2020. Research and Innovation Action. H2020-S2RJU-OC-2017 Innovative materials & modular design for rolling stock applications.



  • Budget: 3.5 million euro
  • ITAINNOVA budget: 200.000,00 €


  • Budget: 3.5 million euro
  • ITAINNOVA grant: 200.000,00 €


Mat4Rail is a research project that has received funding from the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 777595.


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