Transport themes in TRIP

Transport themes in TRIP

To facilitate access, all research programmes and projects have been grouped under 24 transport themes within a framework of five transport dimensions. While each theme focuses on specific aspects of transport research, many themes overlap and thus some research projects may be relevant to more than one theme.


Air transport

Research covers passenger and freight transport by heavier-than-air and lighter-than-air vehicles. Principal means of air transport are fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, tilt-rotors and airships. The focus is on commercial aviation by domestic and international airlines relying on dedicated airport infrastructure and air traffic management systems for regional, European and global transport. Air transport includes ground services related to these operations.

Rail transport

Research on rail transport refers to all land-bound passenger and freight transport on dual and single fixed rail, including heavy rail, light rail, tram, metro, funicular and monorail. Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) systems on conventional rails and MAGLEV systems are not strictly ‘rail’ track and are included under innovative technologies.

Road transport

Road transport research covers vehicles operating on motorways, asphalt and gravel roads, and associated infrastructure including bridges, cuttings, tunnels, parking areas and footways. Ground transport in ports and airports directly associated with air, maritime and inland waterway transport is not included. Non-motorised modes, such as walking and cycling, are included because these forms of transport largely share the same infrastructure.

Urban transport

Research on urban transport refers to all passenger and freight transport within built-up areas, including journeys starting or ending in a conurbation. Most journeys are less than 15 kilometres. The main elements of urban transport are motorised private vehicles, public transport, non-motorised transport (cycling and walking), service vehicles and last mile freight transport.

Water transport (sea & inland)

Water transport research covers maritime transport, short-sea shipping (SSS), inland navigation, estuarial shipping, and land operations that include cargo handling/ transfer between waterborne and other transport modes.

Multimodal transport

Research on multimodal transport covers both freight and passenger transport. With respect to freight transport, the theme incorporates the movement of freight in one loading unit or road vehicle, which uses successively two or more transport modes without goods handling during modal changes. Multimodal passenger transport covers the use of different modes in a door-to-door journey chain, with the focus on modal integration in a seamless journey.


Passenger transport

Research covers all forms of public and private transport by air, land and water, both scheduled and unscheduled. It includes non-motorised and pedestrian transport. Passenger transport may be urban, rural, coastal, local, long distance or cross border, and involves one or more modes. The breadth of this theme indicates that research is primarily of relevance to the planning, organisation and operation of passenger transport.

Freight transport

Research has a broad focus extending from the transport of raw materials, semi-processed products, and finished products from supplier to consumer, to new and used consumer products transported back to suppliers. It also concerns the transport of agricultural products and livestock. Freight transport is becoming increasingly intermodal and multimodal using local, regional, national and international systems. Indirectly, freight transport concerns the organisation and management of the supply chain and logistic services that determine the quantity and quality of freight transport, and commercial relationships between shippers and transport service providers.


Intelligent transport systems

Research on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) covers a wide field. ITS comprise combinations of communication, computer and control technology developed and applied in transport to improve system performance, transport safety, efficiency, productivity, service, environment, energy and mobility. ITS can be applied to transport infrastructure, as well as to vehicles, such as cars, trucks and trains. These systems can be used in both passenger and freight transport to improve service quality and transport management.

Innovative technologies

Research embraces vehicles, infrastructure, transport organisation and information technology. Covering all transport modes, research on new vehicle technologies targets sustainability, efficiency and safety. Infrastructure technologies include new types of transport infrastructure, such as evacuated tubes, pipelines, MAGLEV and Personal Rapid Transit. Transport organisation includes GPS-based fleet tracking and intelligent tour planning, while information technologies include real-time (mobile) information, real-time tracking systems and vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

Transport management

Research is directed to changing the ways air, rail, road and waterborne transport systems, particularly the infrastructure, are used. Transport management includes increasing or reducing capacity, reallocating capacity and changes in the operation of public transport. Measures are being developed to influence the use of the car, public transport, freight vehicles and non-motorised transport. Transport management also covers micro-level management including optimising transport operations and planning, supply chain management, and fleet management systems.


Financing, pricing and taxation

Research focuses on methods to bridge the gap between the cost of transport and the revenue to be generated from operation of transport systems. This includes pricing and taxation instruments that provide the capital up front for the construction and renewal of infrastructure as well as cash management tools and credit enhancement and/ or investment tools. Financing tools include the creation of suitable organisational structures with the capacity to manage new approaches in financing.

Regulation, competition and public services

As in other network industries, the transport sector has elements of high fixed costs and large economies of scale that hamper the market entry of new actors and the development of effective competition. As many services show low profitability, state subsidies and the provision of public services are common practice. Competition in the transport sector is often further impeded by deviating standards across transport modes and countries. Research provides the basis for setting regulatory standards. Regulation may be used to facilitate competition, as well as to achieve specific transport objectives, such as safety.

Infrastructure and TEN-T

Research covers planning, financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure in all transport modes. The theme includes modal transfers, and information and communication networks to support traffic management. The theme also includes the development of TEN-T networks and terminals in all transport modes, which is a key aspect of the EU transport strategy.

Land-use and transport planning

Research focuses on integrated planning of transport systems and land use to identify ways to reduce traffic congestion, energy use and vehicle emissions. Furthermore, it covers increasing the density of settlement structures and developing land-use patterns in order to encourage provision and use of public transport as well as to facilitate the use of slow modes.

Climate policy and energy efficiency

Research is carried out in support of policies dedicated to mitigating climate change, which is a central goal of EU transport policy. Policies focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions using instruments such as emission trading systems and setting regulations. Research on energy efficiency is directed, for instance, to potential policy measures, and technological, economic and behaviour changes in order to reduce energy consumption per output indicator (such as, passenger or tonne-kilometre).

Security and Safety

Transport safety concerns exposure of people, goods and property to potential hazards in all parts of the transport system and may vary according to transport mode. Research is accessing acceptable levels of risk according to the choices made by individuals, whether operating staff, drivers or passengers. Security research aims at protecting people, goods and transport systems from real and perceived threat of crime, terrorism, negligence, technical failures or natural disasters.

International cooperation & EU Neighbourhood Policy

Research covers the requirements for transport between EU Member States, and neighbourhood countries and other countries worldwide. Specific research focuses are integration of EU transport networks and systems with external countries and regions, directed to facilitating the movement of goods and passengers, as well as integrated safety and security systems.

Awareness, information and user rights

Research ranges from the role of transport users and their influence on achieving long-term objectives of transport policy to the protection of user rights and interests. It includes improving information provision to transport users and increasing user awareness of the implications of their transport choices. The theme embraces user perspectives on the quality of transport services, such as reliability, flexibility, comfort, affordability and convenience.


Long-term perspectives

Scenarios for periods of 15 years or more are used in long-term development paths of economic, technical, environmental, demographic, social, societal and behavioural trends. Research also includes impact assessment of exogenous long-term developments on transport markets.

Assessment & decision support methodologies

Methodologies, tools and databases are developed to support policy-makers in predicting and simulating the performance of transport systems; in impact studies of transport policies and projects on the environment, safety and socio-economics; evaluation of transport policies and projects; and monitoring transport systems. Decision-support systems include information systems and tools used in the commercial sector by fleet operators for the management and operation of commercial vehicle fleets.

Environmental impacts

Research on environmental impacts addresses the adverse effects of transport such as air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, noise, vibration, visual impacts, damage to nature protection areas, landscape, social impacts and waste disposal. The severity of these impacts is assessed, mitigation measures analysed and environmentally friendly technologies developed.

Economic and regional impacts

This theme covers research on macro-economic and regional economic impacts of transport policies and transport technologies. Economic and regional impacts occur mainly through the mechanisms of cost savings and improved accessibility, as a result of various EU policy measures, such as TEN-T or cohesion policy. Research focuses on methodologies and tools to estimate the impacts of policies and technologies on economic or regional patterns.

Accessibility, social and equity impacts

Research on equity impacts of transport strategies focuses on meeting the needs of groups such as those on low incomes, the elderly, the disabled, and those living in deprived areas. Social inclusion primarily concerns accessibility for those without a car and people with impaired mobility. Research aims at increasing access to employment, shopping, leisure and other activities for people from different locations, and with differing access to transport.