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Headlines Published on 10 June 2004

Title The science behind your smooth transit

Europe’s much-envied transport system has not reached this level of speed, safety and comfort by chance. Heavy investment in research and intensified co-operation provide the backbone from which this vital sector has grown. EU-backed research networks, such as Intransnet, ensure that Europe remains at the forefront in this field. 

Europe’s sophisticated transport system isn’t resting on its laurels © Source: PhotoDisc
Europe’s sophisticated transport system isn’t resting on its laurels

© Source: PhotoDisc
This thematic network, funded by the European Union’s Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) and launched in 2002, set out to establish and build up co-operation among European national transport research facilities and operators. According to the network’s literature, it aims “to empower potential users to use synergies to increase the competitive power of European research”. 

Lofty goals, but important ones nonetheless, as transport – by air, road, water and rail – has been an inseparable feature of Europe’s economic growth. At the core of this success is the need to improve communication between the various actors involved in the transport chain, from basic physical research and engineering on land transport and intelligent traffic systems through to seat comfort modelling for trains and planes.

The twelve universities and institutions involved in Intransnet – the Network of European medium and large-scale transport research facilities operators – have set up a communication system, with a sophisticated website and searchable database at its core, to deliver up-to-date and relevant information to all research stakeholders in the field.     

Multinational partnership
Since its launch in January 2002, the web-based network has built up a strong user community taking advantage of the database’s many features, including information on research facilities on test beds, model testing laboratories, prototype engineering and simulators. Gerfried Cebrat, project manager at the Austrian Mobility Research FGM-AMOR and a core partner in the project, says the cumulative users of Intransnet’s services runs into the several thousands, with an average of 450 consultations a month.

The biggest user group to date has been research facilities in the road transport sector (27.0%), followed by rail (18.0%), maritime (14.3%), air (10.7%) and local public transport stakeholders making up the top five (10.3%). Their involvement in the network has provided several benefits, including networking opportunities with colleagues in other institutions and countries, a means of disseminating publications, access to technical research, greater recognition of participating institutions’ expertise, and better opportunities for them to take part in funded projects.

The project – backed by almost €1.6 million of EU funding, the maximum community contribution under the FP5 Growth programme – is being coordinated by the University of Žilina’s Centre for Transportation Research, Slovakia. Partners in the network come from eight European countries: Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Finland, Poland, and the lead country Slovakia.

In six month’s time, when the EU project officially ends, the network is keen to continue building its user community and to carry on being a valuable knowledge exchange for transport research facilities, public authorities and industrial partners, such as those in the telematics and automotive sector, say the group. “Our plan is to keep it alive and we’re looking into several alternatives to do this: one is to introduce new web services to encourage contributions from the user community,” Cebrat explains.

He offers the example of a car manufacturer locating a partner to test the noise emissions levels of its new diesel engine for passenger cars through the database. Likewise, an aircraft parts maker can use the simulation services to assess energy consumption of a new turbine prototype. The sky is the limit!   

Source:  EU sources

Research Contacts page

More information:

  • Intransnet (project website)
  • Project fact sheet (on CORDIS)
  • University of Žilina (Centre for Transportation Research)
  • Austrian Mobility Research (FGM-AMOR)

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