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Transport, including aeronautics and space, sustainable development

Technology Platforms show the way

Background description

Efficient transport is a fundamental condition for sustainable wealth and prosperity in Europe, driving employment, economic growth and global exports, and providing Europeans with essential resources and means of mobility. But increasing demand for efficient transport is a major challenge and rising levels of traffic bring ever more safety, environmental and health concerns. In some cases, radical solutions are required.

In a Europe of many languages, one of the greatest obstacles to progress in the transport sector lies in getting researchers, authorities and other stakeholders to speak with a single voice. To date, many resources have been wasted due to a lack of communication between the right parties at the right time.


Launched in 2001, ACARE, the ‘Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe’ was the first of the transport research ‘Technology Platforms’. Its members include representatives from EU Member States, EUROCONTROL, the European Commission, the European aeronautics industry and air transport operators. ACARE’s goal has been to develop and implement a strategic approach to future aeronautics research. Its Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) was delivered in November 2002 and updated in March 2005. Today, ACARE remains a groundbreaking example of consensus building and co-operation in European research.

Following the example of ACARE, similar initiatives have now been launched covering all transport modes. ERRAC, launched in 2001, is the ‘European Rail Research Advisory Council’. It delivered its SRA, a guide to the planning of rail research programmes, in December 2002. ERTRAC, ‘European Road Transport Research Advisory Council’ was launched in 2003. It delivered its SRA in January 2005. Finally, the youngest of the Technology Platforms, WATERBORNETP, launched in 2005, aims to show the way to more effective waterborne transport research.

Full project title: Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe
Project acronym: ACARE
Coordinators: Francois Quentin, Thales; Joachim Szodruch, EREA
Full project title: European Rail Research Advisory Council
Project acronym: ERRAC
Coordinators: Åke Wennberg, Bombardier Transportation
Full project title: European Road Transport Research Advisory Council
Project acronym: ERTRAC
Coordinators: Rudi Kunze, Ford Europe

Science in society significance

European transport research is no longer about asphalt, rail junctions and jet engines. European and global transport sectors are now highly regulated, making efficient cross-sector knowledge sharing and pooling of resources critical. Today’s holistic approach includes all partners and addresses the larger needs of society. Through co-operative action, both within and outside the Union, Europe is creating a critical mass of ideas and solutions, strengthening European excellence while helping to steer the world towards a safer, cleaner and more prosperous transport future. The transport research Technology Platforms bring together the principal actors within the various transport modes, to define and implement strategies for reaching Europe’s scientific, political and societal targets.

Expected results/outcomes

Each of the Technology Platforms has a Strategic Research Agenda, mapping the way forward in its particular area of transport research. More generally, the aims of the Technology Platforms are:

  • Increased international and cross-sector co-operation and exchange in transport research;
  • Improved transport safety and environmental performance;
  • Improved competitiveness for the European transport industries in the global market;
  • Improved reliability, convenience and affordability of transport for EU citizens.