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Research on passenger transport 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 involve one or more modes. Given the breadth of this theme, the research is primarily of relevance to planning, organisation and operation of passenger transport modes to the exclusion of freight.
Freight transport research deals with the movement of raw materials, semi-processed products, and finished products from supplier to consumer, and new and used consumer products back to supplier. It also concerns the movement of agricultural products and livestock. Freight movement 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.
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 – motorways, roads, and bridges – as well as to vehicles, including cars, buses, trucks, and trains. These systems can be used in both passenger and freight transport in improving service quality and transport management.
Research projects embrace vehicles, infrastructure, transport organisation or 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, for instance, 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.
Research in this wide-ranging theme involves changing how air, rail, road and waterborne transport systems, particularly the infrastructure, are used. Transport management includes increasing or reducing road capacity, reallocation of capacity, and changes in the operation of public transport. Measures are being developed to influence the use of the car, public transport and freight vehicles as well as non-motorised transport. Transport management also covers micro-level management including optimising transport operation and planning, supply chain management, and fleet management systems.
Air transport research covers passenger and freight movements 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 the ground services related to these operations.
Research on rail transport refers to all land-bound passenger and freight transport on dual and single fixed rail. This includes heavy rail, light rail, tram, metro, funicular, and monorail. Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) systems (which may or may not have conventional rails) and MAGLEV systems, where the track is not strictly a ‘rail’, are included under innovative technologies (see above).
Road transport covers all vehicles on motorways, roads, tracks and paths and the associated infrastructure (bridges, cuttings, tunnels, parking areas, footways). Research in this theme does not include ground transport in ports and airports that is directly associated with the functioning of air, maritime and inland waterway transport. Non-motorised modes, such as walking and cycling, are included because this form of transport largely shares the same infrastructure.
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, service vehicles, and ‘last mile’ freight transport.
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.
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.
Research in this area focuses on methods to bridge the gap between the cost of transport projects and the revenue to be generated from the operation of transport systems. It 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. For instance, provision of capital for investment; financing schemes for transport systems; public-private partnerships; socio-economic financial and risk analysis; and assessment of positive and negative impacts resulting from new financing principles. Financing tools also include the creation of suitable organisational structures with the capacity to manage new approaches in financing.
As in other network industries, elements of the transport sector are characterised by high fixed costs and large economies of scale which hamper the market entry of new actors and hence 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 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.
Research on transport infrastructure and the Trans-European Networks (TEN-T) covers planning, financing, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure for all transport modes. The theme covers physical networks including right of way and modal transfers, and information and communication networks to support traffic management. The theme includes the development of TEN-T networks in all transport modes, which is a key aspect of the EU transport strategy.
Research focuses on integrated planning of transport systems and land use to identify ways to reduce congestion by increasing development density and by developing land-use patterns to encourage provision and use of public transport. Another aspect is development control to match the traffic impact of developments with the capacity of the transport system to cope with the pedestrian and vehicle traffic generated.
Research is carried out in support of a wide range of policies dedicated to mitigating climate change, which is a central goal of European 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 to reduce energy consumption per output indicator (such as passenger or tonne-kilometre).
Transport safety concerns the 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.
Research covers the transport needs 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.
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.
This theme covers research on long-term scenarios over periods of 15 years or more. These scenarios are used in long-term development paths of economic, technical, environmental, demographic, social, societal and behavioural trends. This theme also covers impact assessment of exogenous long-term developments on transport markets.
Methodologies, tools and databases are developed to support policy-makers. Research outputs are used in predicting and simulating the performance of transport systems; studies on the impact of transport policies and projects on environment, safety and socio-economics; evaluation of transport policies and projects; and monitoring transport systems. Decision support systems also include information systems and tools used in the commercial sector by fleet operators for the management and operation of commercial vehicle fleets.
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. Research includes assessment of the severity of these impacts, analysis of mitigation measures and the development of environmentally friendly technologies.
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 polices and technologies on economic or regional patterns.
Research on equity impacts of transport strategies focuses on meeting the special 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 accessibility for employment, shopping, leisure and other activities for people from different locations, and with differing availability of transport.