Number 30 – April 2012

Bulletin of the Observatory of Transport Policy and Strategy in Europe



its creation over ten years ago, our
Observatory has never yet examined the issue of
research, despite many of its members being involved
in research programmes. Research is not an external
element; it is an integral part of the transport system, its
evolution and its ability to respond more efficiently to
mobility needs and the needs of society, which are also
changing. This issue, number 30, thus fills a gap (better
late than never...).
Research is a vast topic, as vast as transport itself:
technical research into vehicles, infrastructure, energy
sources, information systems etc.; managerial research
into organisations and how operational resources are
managed; socio-economic research to gain a better
understanding of stakeholders' motivations and
interactions and, on behalf of public authorities, to help
consideration for the interactions between transport and
its environment. Transport research thus involves
practically the whole range of scientific disciplines:
natural sciences and social sciences, "hard" and "soft",
technology and organisation. It also brings the world of
business into contact with the world of academia, often
with public administration as an intermediary or catalyst
in the role of both client and financial sponsor.
Transport systems in their widest sense are one of the
strengths of the European economy in relation to the
global competition, with 25 of the biggest international
freight and logistics groups having their head offices in
Europe, but European research also has a wellestablished place within global research. It is still largely
organised on a national basis (universities as research
centres are not yet plurinational), but it does have a
specifically European aspect, particularly the European
Union Framework Programmes for Research and
Technological Development (FPRTD), which over the
years have given rise to a habit of cooperation between
teams from several countries in "consortia" that are
necessarily plural. This forges a more integrated
European scientific community which is also more likely
to cooperate with other partners, mostly American or

It is not possible to give a detailed account of such a
complex and diverse research landscape in a just few
pages, and a longer text would be cumbersome.
However, this brief panorama contains food for thought
for any researcher, manager or sponsor of private or
public research: what is the right dose of specialisation
or multidisciplinarity for research teams and projects? of
decentralisation, or of centralisation in powerful hubs
with a presence on the world scene? of demand-led
management or investment in fundamental work, whose
applicability may only become clear later? and, quite
simply, what financial effort must be devoted to research
despite the current context of the "great recession" from
the viewpoint of the "knowledge economy", which is said
to be the future of Europe's development?
Michel Savy
Professor at Paris Est University
Director of the OPSTE

Editorial. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
OPSTE on Research. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 to 8


the environment etc. These projects are monitored.) with large amounts of money (a French-German comparative study. However. research. mobility. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is responsible for applied research in the fields of health. now devoting about 1% of GDP after starting from a very low base. INTRAS (Instituto de Investigación en Tráfico y Seguridad Vial at the University of Valencia) and the infrastructure economics and transport research group at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. the shipping industry etc. safety and security. on transport in broader documents covering both technology and the humanities to help us appreciate how this effort is reflected in the area of transport. with the rest coming from the research centres themselves and from resources they obtain through contracts. applied projects involving external partners. €400M of which comes from contracts with industry. an institute initially specialising in air transport and aerospace but now equally interested in land transport. Transport ministry programmes are organised into projects offered via calls for bids to external researchers. but to identify the broad outlines of how research is organised and of the research subjects chosen as a priority. Research is also funded by industry (the rail industry. including publication on the ministry site. Universities carry out both fundamental research and. the subject of intermodal transport is allocated €4M a year. but its role is more to stimulate and manage research than to conduct it. There is just one centre under the responsibility of the transport ministry. external effects around airports) €1M. Stuttgart etc. logistics research is located at the Ruhr centre. The goal is not to evaluate or even to summarise the results of research conducted in this or that country. economy. not just aiming to limit the proportion of road transport. others follow or simply seek not to be left too far behind. attached to the corresponding Number 30 – April 2012 . covered this point). urban and rural transport €4M and innovative concepts in freight and passenger mobility €4M.5M. accounts for some 7. For example. Its researchers are spread across the country at various specialist sites. Another centre. ● Spain While certain countries play a leading role in transport research. Most are university centres. noise. reported previously by the OPSTE. socio-economic modelling). less polluting ships and a logistics action plan. New teams have recently arisen through public infrastructure policies. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) is a research budget coordination fund (more or less comparable with the Agence nationale pour la recherche française or French National Research Agency) funded by the government and the Länder. The main university centres of transport research include. "Defrako". CEDEX (Centro de Estudios y Experimentación de Obras Públicas. Deutsche Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR). but are not limited to. Karlsruhe (socio-economic modelling). the bicycle use development plan €3M (a subject discussed in a previous issue of Transport/Europe). Dresden (railway and aircraft engineering. from a viewpoint that combines all modes of transport. environment) and the Länder. is a consortium between the regional authority (the autonomous government of Catalonia) and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. CENIT (Centre d'Innovació del Transport) in Barcelona. in no particular order: Aachen. For example. which work on themes closer to the needs of transport policy. have included a research aspect in areas such as fuel cells and hydrogen fuel cells. with a budget of €200M.000 people divided between 32 teams with a budget of €745M. evaluated and promulgated by the institutions that have supported them. resulting in funding arrangements that are often complex. such as TRANSyT (Centro de Investigación del Transporte at the Technical University of Madrid). in Madrid). This is the case of Spain. Hamburg (maritime transport and logistics). we can currently identify at least twenty-two research centres working in this area. There is no summary document. For example. air transport (safety. The ministry also has its own research units. increasingly. Transport policies such as the Masterplan. which have responsibility for the universities. procedures and incentives as well as the fields under investigation. or even chapter. a proportion of research is co-funded by the federal ministries (transport.Bulletin of the Observatory of Transport Policy and Strategy in Europe OPSTE on research This comparative analysis of transport research in European countries covers research structures. road transport and road construction €12. ● Germany In Germany. Their priorities are infrastructure planning (methods and funding). This kind of public finance for projects frequently amounts to 50%. The academic system is strongly organised around professorial chairs and their holders. which does not have a historic research tradition but has made major efforts to catch up over the last thirty years. Berlin Institute of Technology. climate and adapting infrastructure to extreme weather conditions etc.

and which are characterised by great diversity between the few large and many small organisations. Then the new science and innovation ministry took over the procedure to the detriment of the individual sector-specific ministries. and researchers are encouraged to publish in English … In the current economic and political context. but none of these works on transport any more than the twenty-two centres on the supplementary list. Transport. Private research is supported by public funding but also has its own dynamic thanks to the manufacturers themselves in the automotive and aeronautical industries. The Advancity cluster at the Paris Est University site covers sustainable cities. Outside purely university-based work (such as theses in geography or transport economics).Bulletin of the Observatory of Transport Policy and Strategy in Europe management bodies: ADIF (rail infrastructure) in Andalusia and PLAZA (logistics platforms) in Zaragoza. which resulted in calls for applications for two or three years. The Future Investments programme operates under the banner of a "search for excellence". which thus see their research orientations finalised. while there is still a deficit in the Spanish contribution to the FPRTD. One of the stated aims is to reinforce centres of excellence.250 people in 25 research units covering all aspects of transport. which has a base at the PRES Paris Est Descartes campus and employees 1. Using the leverage of public finance. services and their interfaces. a deliberate policy aims to encourage the emergence of more powerful centres and to stimulate initiatives by having teams compete with each other. energy and climate change (including sustainable mobility and transport). economic and environmental objectives for research. the environment and transport taxation. The network also includes schools training both officials and engineers destined for the private sector: ENAC (National Civil Aviation School). not to mention the research offices that can respond to calls for research bids. alongside university research. Urban Planning and Public Construction) and SETRA (Transport. The 2005 Infrastructure and Transport Plan included a research section. Roads and Bridges Engineering and Road Safety Technical Department). raising the question of ignorance about cost-benefit analyses. Heir to a long administrative tradition. contribute to research and to preparing and publishing standards and best practice. Vehicles of the future (for a long time included in the aeronautical field. while urban transport is closer to the PUCA research programme (construction. such as the Future Investments ("Investissements d'Avenir") plan. research and business closer together. from technology to the human sciences. the ministry's science and technology network constitutes a system in its own right. the environment ministry is responsible for defining new social. telecommunications and the information society. the debate has turned to the development model underlying this past growth. with the main research subjects being vehicle innovation. urban planning and architecture plan). PREDIT has significant resources for land transport (€400M between 2002 and 2007. In terms of research structures. ANR (National Research Agency) and OSEO (innovation and investment support agency). Associated with both economic policy and regional development policy. These ministries have long been associated with the multi-year interministerial PREDIT land transport research and innovation programme but also. In terms of publications. with the current phase running from 2008 to 2012). and the new call for bids designates eight centres for four years. The National Research Agency (Agence nationale de la recherche) is a resource agency. the ministry's specialist review seems fragile alongside the sector-specific journals devoted to particular modes of transport or to engineering. the demand and supervision for research in France are primarily the responsibility of the ministries for the environment (which also covers the former ministries for equipment and transport). after twenty years of expansion in transport facilities from which research has scarcely benefited at all. while remaining a necessary resource for the public research bodies. elite schools and research organisations able to access skills and visibility recognised at international level. freight and energy efficiency. Budgets have risen overall. 64% of the PREDIT funding goes to the private sector. while local public procurement focuses more on specific studies than broader research. higher education and industry (in particular via PIPAME. the total mobilised amounts to a billion euros. competitive clusters aim to bring higher education. In general. ENTPE (National Number 30 – April 2012 . Its funds are allocated in the form of capital endowments whose income finances research. with a programme of economic stimulus and support for strategic activities. the inter-ministerial programme for forecasting and anticipating economic mutations) and the resource agencies ADEME (Environment and Energy Management Agency). with three main priority areas: health. then the automotive) are a priority theme. Teams are encouraged to seek European funding. Development and Networks). It includes public research establishments such as IFSTTAR (the French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport. more recently. Certain technical departments in the same network. identifying centres that combine universities. such as CERTU (Research Centre for Networks. industry and research. while sustainable mobility is the theme of the Lyon Urban Trucks and Buses cluster. and the PREDIT programme issues regular calls for bids. National funding is supplemented by European financing from the FPRTD (Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development) and COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) when French research teams contribute to European consortia.

the education ministry set up a small framework programme to fund theses and encourage synergies between Greek and foreign research teams. it accounts for less than 1% of the country's GDP (compared with 3% in Northern Europe or Japan). founded fifteen years ago. Although we know that innovation is now the key to growth. especially as the politics of austerity have brought major infrastructure projects to a stop. It is not easy to evaluate the results of transport research in Poland when the government demonstrates a variable degree of interest in the subject. faculty. but it is very general in nature. This role had a position of oligopoly for many years. CRET-LOG at the University of Aix-Marseille II and LVMT (City. academies of science. which houses work on traffic engineering. The sector also includes Athens University of Economics and Business and the University of the Aegean. the government is abandoning its guiding role in terms of research by funding organisations rather than projects. Recently. for example. and they work mainly in Warsaw and then Poznań. etc. even those with very specific focuses. Research tends to be applied.347 researchers have doctorates in transport and 241 in logistics. which gave birth to the figure of the transport planning engineer. There is a research programme inside the transport ministry. with its department of maritime transport and trade. it is encouraging a trend for research to be validated by recognition from the private sector and by concrete results (e. ENPC (National Civil Engineering School) etc. Consultancy firms. Fundamentally. Gdansk. but is now joined by economists who have followed a different path. as with the study of the new infrastructure master plan supported by traffic forecasting research. ● Greece ● Poland In Greece. The teams are generally members of the AFITL (French Association of Transport and Logistics Institutes). the area of transport has a fairly low level of recognition. which are also a Europe-wide research subject. even for very small grants. The most common themes are public urban passenger transport (e. attached to the CNRS National Scientific Research Centre at the University of Lyon 2 and to ENTPE). Most of this scientific production results from applied research funded by the government. Historically. determining how to extend the Athens metro) and. The country has five civil engineering faculties. But there are no more big-budget calls for bids. Most come from a technical and engineering science background. covering IT applications. Wage stagnation is reflected in a reduction in research and development spending. rail transport and transport socio-economics. in addition to several smaller entities. which publishes a peerreviewed scientific journal (Les Cahiers Scientifiques du Transport). is the National Institute of Transport Research. especially from the viewpoint of congestion. There are records with descriptions of twenty-one Number 30 – April 2012 . department and finally laboratory. in the area of freight. Krakow and Katowice. with no long-term vision.g. being divided between different academic disciplines which organise the recruitment and careers of teaching and research staff. There are some 90 research units in the field of transport and 32 more in logistics. while 1. developing a simulation model). work together as a flexible network. In higher education. which has about thirty permanent researchers and as many others financed for specific projects. and the researchers are on the mailing list of the Transrech information network. Researchers work within several types of organisation: higher education institutions. The three largest laboratories are LET (Transport Economics Laboratory. sector-specific research units (the legacy of the socialist era's large technical ministries) and application units.g. moving away from the traditional pyramidal organisation that distinguishes between the levels of university. but without any particular emphasis on transport. contributing to various projects.Bulletin of the Observatory of Transport Policy and Strategy in Europe Government Public Works School). Szczecin. Transport is an important sector in Poland. which explains the high number of teaching and research staff. In the latter city. the University of Paris Est Marne la Vallée). the largest being in Athens and Thessaloniki.). All establishments. A new law states that institutions must have at least twelve disciplines awarding doctorates to qualify for the name (transport being considered a separate discipline in the area of technical science. Each institute has its own specialities (aeronautical engineering and applied mechanics in Warsaw. but not in the area of economics). research and teaching in transport were initially included within civil engineering. to the extent that competition between research teams is now fierce. maritime ports. IFSTTAR and UPEMLV. each accounting for about ten people. Mobility and Transport Laboratory attached to ENPC. By imposing the need for additional funding. tend to be described as universities. a new law aims to bring universities and laboratories together more directly. alongside the university.

which often work together. Southampton. The largest centres are Leeds (with about 80 people). ● United Kingdom In the UK. Imperial College and UCL (University College London). the University Transport Studies Group operates like a club of about fifty universities. while congestion problems and the development of intelligent transport require considerable research. in areas such as transitions from one rail gauge to another. which are: strategic planning and transport policy instruments. It organises an annual conference and consults its members about research and teaching news in order to be able to inform government and other bodies. Funding is shared between the government (56%). At local level. with the removal of subsidies. providing support for institutions' scientific operations and investments in research infrastructure. Westminster etc. such as logistics and railway innovation). The more costly funding of applied research receives supplementary resources. To avoid waste. land use and transport modelling. It may be observed that research is based primarily at the universities and not. almost all of them in Polish.Bulletin of the Observatory of Transport Policy and Strategy in Europe research teams working in transport economics. libraries and participation in international conferences. except that the new government insists on the search for solutions and on the political goals of the work (to "create growth"). transport and sustainable development (including a debate on the benefits of modal transfers). covering issues of health or communications as they affect transport users. while the Research Councils (seven public scientific bodies independent of government) take more of an interest in the long term (for engineering and technical research and for socio-economic research into behaviour and mobility. sustainable urban transport. but the results of its work remain generally accessible to everyone. Two funding methods are used: a spontaneous proposal from a researcher can be examined by an evaluation body and funded by a Research Council if it has the resources. but does produce interesting technical advances. However. From a political viewpoint. as in Germany and France. and research funding will be uncertain due to the economic crisis. Tony Blair sought scientific evidence on which to base policy. while David Cameron expects policies to justify themselves on their own terms. Number 30 – April 2012 . three factors seem decisive: the abilities and qualifications of researchers. Two new institutions have been put in place: the National Science Centre and the National Centre for Research and Development. They sometimes launched studies or even broader research programmes. Strategic programmes bring universities together with other bodies with a crossdisciplinary approach. With regard to the publication of results. ecological solutions. the UK Transport Research Centre (UKTRC) was supported by one of the Research Councils and brought together four of the leading centres. Innovation and Skills on transport research. which reports to the ministry and employs a staff of 200. It has been transformed into a not-for-profit foundation funded by contracts.). business (26%). Some powerful local authorities still commission research. and the demand for research from business and public bodies. one organisation is an exception to this: the TRL (Transport Research Laboratory). about two hundred works have been published over the last twenty years. Regular calls for bids are organised for projects lasting two or three years. infrastructure construction and maintenance. road safety. the new government has recently withdrawn its funding. but they are generally seeking practical solutions. intelligent transport systems. It will certainly be more difficult to become a professor in the coming years than in the past. or research programmes are launched (on logistics. modal balance and mobility policy. at research institutes. After the elimination of all central planning. the former Regional Development Agencies have recently been withdrawn. The country is not very highly ranked for patent applications. However. Its main subjects are transport technology (with the Technology Strategy Board setting directions in areas that involve transport. the level of public and private funding. followed by Napier. for example). but demand will be sustained because businesses know they need innovation. urban development etc. with ambitious objective criteria. With regard to research production. the ministry allocates credits with no reference to a precise breakdown between subjects. The list of scientific journals is short. The trend is towards collaboration and grouping around centres of excellence. The ministry deals with medium-term issues. As for future prospects. as everywhere. the Department for Transport works closely with the Department for Business. The cut in the size of the public sector has also reduced the volume and level of research emanating from the ministry. economics and transport policy – themes that are not very different from those explored in other European countries. the Academy of Science (13%) and foreign sources (5%). it is advisable to designate research priorities. etc. though not all of them actually carry out research. including IT networks. For example. the latest change of government has had a significant effect on research.

from the top down. Number 30 – April 2012 . or others. Research is funded via four themed committees: fundamental science. with themes such as transport systems. TRANSP-OR. conducts targeted research into cutting-edge technological applications.. Industry contributes to research funding. A coordination body. Gothenburg and Linköping. There are large sector-specific programmes. The university centres. while the universities place the emphasis on socio-economic aspects. Transport is one of the five research platforms of the KTH (Royal Institute of Technology). the main research hubs. The law decides twenty priority themes to be proposed to researchers. A research planning law is voted on every four years. towards an approach based on social need. with about 200 researchers under the aegis of the ministry for industry working on infrastructure. which are mainly responsible to the cantons. with a growing focus on mathematical models for traffic simulation. government and science.). ABB. There is a high concentration of innovative industries. innovative vehicles. specialising in transport planning. including transport. social research. which receives €100M a year. ● Sweden Most scientific research in Sweden takes place in universities. transport economics and traffic issues. and particularly the TRACE Transportation Centre. the Intermodality and Transport Planning Laboratory. one of the highest levels in the world and still rising over the last ten years. The VTI institute (National Road and Transport Research Institute) is also involved. researchers talk about the problems of cities as a whole and evoke cross-disciplinary issues such as health rather than the traditional sector-based questions. Consultants execute most of the research projects put out to competitive tender by the federal and canton authorities (road development. environment. a federal institute emerging from nuclear research. There is a move from a "push" technique. and particularly the Institut für Verkehrsplanung und Transportsysteme (IVT). the Lausanne federal polytechnic. etc. The area is generally referred to as R&I (research and innovation) rather than R&D (research and development). The Vinnova agency. Five universities. The government has just appointed a policy committee to organise research. with few resources for transport. The schools of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HES). combining research. consisting of representatives of industry. public foundations. The scientific effort is very significant. information. HGV tax system).5% of GDP. Transam.Bulletin of the Observatory of Transport Policy and Strategy in Europe while challenges include the environment and economic performance. catalysis etc. but has no resources to allocate. the Transport and Mobility Laboratory. receive the funding and conduct the work. ● Switzerland In Switzerland. while the energy agency has €30M (particularly for work on fuels) and the national transport office (recently created by merging the four modes of transport) has €40M to €50M. representing 3. For example. The Paul Scherrer Institute. The federal government has some research resources. transport policy and institutions. from the bottom up. funding for transport research is thus very fragmented. with companies such as Ericsson. academic research into transport is mainly carried out at the federal polytechnics of Zurich and Lausanne. It covers a spectrum ranging from fundamental research to operational testing and has a large electronic library and a powerful database of transport projects. but its involvement is mainly limited to expressing its needs. half from industry and the programme for future infrastructure (roads and railways) and air transport. The preparations for the next research planning act should be based on this approach. . have responded and are examined by an international jury to receive funding. but it is not binding on the committees responsible for actual scientific planning. driving simulation. In addition. government and industry with both a strong decentralisation of research work and a polarisation around centres of excellence ensuring a degree of consistency. takes more of an interest in innovation than in actual research. The Swedish research system thus operates as a network. the human factor. such as the vehicle programme. but sometimes at sites abroad. several smaller teams specialise in technical questions and the Swedish energy agency supports research and development centres working on subjects such as engines. and building and public works. A national forum of all stakeholders meets every year to coordinate national research. future infrastructure. With industrial research the Zurich federal polytechnic. The main research groups include those located: . concentrate solely on applied research. brings all these partners together. which has €50M to €70M a year. entrusting the research to university staff and research offices and implementing the results. which constitutes an entry point for transport research projects and directs people interested in projects to specialist research groups such as LITEP. Volvo etc. including the universities of Chalmers. and relatively little in specialist institutes. A profound change in how research is oriented is under way.

As for future prospects. contributing to the establishment of national skills centres. Number 30 – April 2012 . especially in Geneva. University of Westminster (UK) ● Bertil Carstam.Bulletin of the Observatory of Transport Policy and Strategy in Europe . while the Federal Office for Spatial Development prepares scenarios and forecast studies. Yverdon and Fribourg. Paris (France) ● Michael Browne. Catholic University of Mons (Belgium) ● Antoine Beyer. University of Paris 4. ● Catharina Horn. Federal transport research is coordinated by the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) in the field of sustainable territorial development and planning. where work covers green vehicle propulsion. University of the Aegean. In particular. Funding for transport research is mainly based on federal public funds from both the transport department (DETEC) and the national research the HES schools. the national "Transport Environment" programme (1996-2000) had a budget of about 8 million euros and initiated the transport policies currently in force. Itéral Management. while the Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana (SUPSI) carries out applied research in transport socio-economics. more "political". Supplying data for research is the responsibility of the Federal Statistical Office. two directions for development are emerging: one. more "scientific". In terms of organisation. consultant. while the specialist offices draft regular sector-specific transport plans. University of Gdansk. Dresden University of Technology (Germany) ● Séraphin Kapros. while the other. the confederation relies on the Swiss Science and Technology Council (CSST). Stockholm (Sweden) ●Tristan Chevroulet. Swiss transport research programmes are episodic. focuses on the numerical simulation of transport systems. This summary was prepared from contributions by: ● Michel Beuthe. For questions relating to research and technology policy. Barcelone (Spain) ● Jan Burnewicz. concerns transport planning and territorial organisation. Institute of Territorial Studies. The University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HESSO) has set up a master's in territorial engineering which includes transport teaching. Lausanne (Switzerland) ● Rafael Giménez Capdevila.

Bulletin of the Observatory of Transport Policy and Strategy in Europe Observatory of Transport Policy and Strategy in Europe MEDDTL/CGDD/SEEIDD/MA Tour Voltaire 92055 LA DEFENSE CEDEX FRANCE Publication director: Michel Savy Number 30 – April 2012 .