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Challenges and Solutions

Transport at a crossroads – New challenges have arrived...

Society is changing and that brings new challenges - many of which impact the transport system.

Business models too are changing. The ownership and usership balance is no longer the same and the boundaries between public and private transport are becoming less distinct.

Challenges can emerge from policy, industry, society, the research community or other stakeholders. Challenges can be a threat, but also an opportunity.

Research and innovation in transport is crucial to converting these challenges into opportunities as they find the best way to translate society's needs and transport policies into practice.

Environmental Challenges

Despite progress achieved over the past years, CO2 emissions from transport-related activities keep growing.

Congestion and quality of air – particularly in urban environments – are threatening quality of life and mobility.

It is essential to introduce innovative low-carbon solutions, which can decarbonise the EU transport system without making travel more difficult.

The COP21 Paris Agreement increases the urgency of introducing new technologies. This agreement sets out a global action plan to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change, by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

The way ahead – innovative solutions

Ultimately, transport must become smarter, greener and more integrated.

It must be:

  • resource-efficient
  • climate and environment-friendly
  • safe and seamless for the benefit of the citizens, the economy and society

By 2050 the EU plans to:

  • reduce CO2 emissions by 60%
  • reduce Nitrogen Oxide emissions by 90%
  • reduce perceived noise from aircraft by 65%
  • vastly improve road transport safety with zero fatalities and serious injuries
  • remove conventionally-fuelled cars from cities
  • reach 40% use of sustainable low carbon fuels in aviation
  • cut shipping emissions by 40%
  • enable a 50% shift of medium-distance intercity passengers from road to rail
  • ensure more than 50% of road freight travelling over 300 km shifts to other transport modes such as rail or water

Decarbonising transport

Decarbonisation is the most crucial and urgent issue.

Decarbonisation at vehicle, infrastructure and operations level is necessary as the COP21 Paris Agreement means that transport will need to provide a major contribution towards limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

The following solutions and measures have been identified:

  • Electrifying transport can break the sector's dependency on oil, drastically reduce CO2 emissions and make our cities less polluted. Developing a new generation of batteries is an essential research and innovation goal to create a fully electrified transport system. Where electrification is not an option, promoting alternative fuels and energy efficient solutions remain a priority.
  • Automated transportation and smart mobility services have the potential to improve traffic flows, optimise the use of infrastructure, lower noise levels, shift passengers toward public transport and improve safety. A number of technical and legislative challenges need to be resolved to make this a reality.
  • Digitisation, advanced connectivity, big data, smart cities and the internet of things are important tools to transform the way we travel and move goods, and radically change traffic management, logistics, passenger and freight services.
  • Improving transport infrastructure will allow deep changes in the transport sector.

Operating transport seamlessly across modes and between operators and infrastructure owners will mean growing demand can be accommodated effectively with better service to users. Infrastructure itself is responsible only for around 5% of total greenhouse emissions. However, it can contribute to minimising emissions through its construction and maintenance.

An essential role for industry

The European transport industry needs a transport system capable of embracing the shift towards clean energy sources, smart connectivity and automation. It also needs a system which capable of turning this shift into a competitive advantage.

Advancements in design and manufacturing will introduce innovations in the European transport industry which will be crucial for the competitiveness in the European Union.

When developing new technologies and services, industries must also take into account their socio-economic aspect i.e. the impact on society, behaviour and the economy.

For this reason, transport research and innovation are crucial to help the European transport industry remain the best in the world.