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Coordination Action for the European Strategic Agenda of Research on Intermodalism and Logistics

Intermodal transport will supply more capacity, but this can only be achieved with a coordinated innovation agenda and various activities. Thus, it is necessary to bring together people with decision-making capabilities to influence the planning of research and technology programmes, hence the European Intermodal Research Advisory Council (EIRAC).

Tags: Multimodal


Freight transport in Europe has been growing more rapidly over the last ten years than the EU-15’s GDP, and even more than the mobility of people. One cause is the opening up of the transport market, which has occurred over the same period. The major drawbacks are represented by congestion, which is growing on the main European transport system, and the harmful effects on the environment and public health.

Moreover, the challenges of the enlargement compel new choices to be made to promote transport policy with more balanced, smarter and greener mobility systems.

A radical shift in the mentality and behaviour of actors in transport is needed. Intermodal aspects must be brought in at all phases of transport policy and planning, based on cost-effective, implemental research and technological development.

Efficient logistics and transport operations require reliable and secure flows of goods and traffic throughout both the transport and logistics chains. While in the past, infrastructure investment programmes were developed from a single mode approach, global logistics operations today favour the integration of modes and impose new priorities in the decision-making process. The logistic shifts towards global sourcing and centralised inventories demand larger geographical coverage and smoother international transport without any counterproductive delays in the networks.


CAESAR aims at fostering the creation of a new and common vision of intermodal research in Europe, by achieving the following objectives:

  • to establish research and development requirements in conjunction with business scenarios
  • to improve the implementation of intermodal research results by the relevant industry
  • to focus research programmes and their implementation (at EU and national levels) around a joint strategy.

To achieve these objectives, CAESAR will focus attention on real industry needs, the relevant business scenario, and then it will identify and focus on five main areas for innovation. At the proposal stage, a preliminary analysis has shown that the most important are:

  • logistics
  • interoperability between the systems
  • security
  • socio-economics
  • education and training.
Cover page of EIRAC's Strategic Intermodal Research Agenda 2020
Cover page of EIRAC's Strategic Intermodal Research Agenda 2020

Description of work

The work plan of CAESAR is organised into four main work packages (WP), coordinated by a proper project management work package. Each WP is organised into different tasks, aiming at fulfilling the different achievements expected by the Coordinated Action.

The Coordinated Action is planned to last 24 months. Each single work package is paced by different milestones to guarantee the work completion of each activity and task, and to synchronise the progress among the different WPs.

The CAESAR work packages are:

WP1: Project management

WP2: Establishment of the European Intermodal Research Advisory Council

WP3: Setting the strategic research agenda

WP4: Implementation strategy

WP5: Communication and dissemination strategy

Work Packages 1, 3 and 5 will last the whole of the CAESAR project, accompanying the coordination action along its path and development. WP2, lasting until month 12, is to set up the Plenary and sign the Terms of Reference (first 4 months), and to establish the reference Group of National Representatives (until month12). The implementation strategy (WP4) to develop the content of the strategic research agenda will last from month 4 until the end of the CA.


The establishment of EIRAC – European Intermodal Research Advisory Council – is the main objective of this initiative, with the aim of bringing together the stakeholders of the intermodal sector. The EIRAC will be established at the end of month 4 of the CA, and it will prepare, in accordance with the scheme provided in the description of WP3, the Strategic Research Agenda of Intermodal Transport. CAESAR will continue operating to ensure the existence of EIRAC after the completion of the project.

Although the details would be specified in the Terms of Reference (see section ‎, which are to be signed at the establishment of the European Intermodal Research Advisory Council, it is expected that the EIRAC will be composed of the following entities:

  • the Plenary, industry driven,
  • the Support Group, industry driven,
  • the Mirror Group, representatives of the EU Member States and Switzerland
  • the Secretariat.

The CAESAR consortium will provide the Secretariat services to the EIRAC.

The Terms of Reference rule the operation and decision-making process of the advisory council. They will include the scope, the mission, the process of processing and maintaining the strategic research agenda.

The Strategic Intermodal Research Agenda 2020 (SIRA) is the list of needs for future research and a compendium of the research strategy developed in conjunction with a business scenario. The contents of the strategic research agenda will be determined by key industrial figures, i.e. the EIRAC members. It will be based on prioritised areas of innovation targeted to specific industrial and business objectives set by the stakeholders.

The implementation plan is meant for change, to feed the work programmes of future EC Framework Programmes, and equivalent initiatives of the Member States and private investments.

All information on EIRAC will be made available:

EIRAC organisation chart
EIRAC organisation chart