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Towards an integrated European railway system: 4th Railway package approved on the market side
16 Jan 2017:

According to the new rules, railway companies will be able to offer their services for domestic rail routes in a more innovative, integrated and attractive way for the EU citizens. In particular:

  • Competitive tendering for public service will become the rule as from 2023. Contracts open to all EU rail operators should gradually become the standard procedure for selecting service providers. Better focus on customer services and cost efficiency are expected

  • Each company can offer commercial services on the European markets for rail passenger transport, as from December 2020. Member states could still restrict the new operator's right of access to certain lines and an objective economic analysis by the national regulator is insured.

What is the 4th railway package?

The 4th railway package contains measures aiming at reforming the rail transport sector in four key areas: Infrastructure governance; Opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail; Interoperability and safety; Social dimension. The final objectives are to:

  • deliver a more efficient, competitive, and less fragmented European railway system with better connections between the EU and its neighboring countries;

  • increase rail's capacity, efficiency, and attractiveness for customers;

  • encourage modal shift from road and air;

  • complete the circle of market opening already achieved in the freight, international passenger and other transport markets.

These new rules have also the purpose to encourage the use of rail transport which is one of most sustainable means of transport that would help reducing emissions in the EU (as outlined in the Commission's 2011 Transport White Paper).

Transport Research Arena TRA 2018 in Vienna, 16-19 April 2018: Call for Papers now open! Submit your Abstract!
12 Jan 2017:

We would like to inform you that the call for papers for the coming Transport Research Arena - TRA 2018 in Vienna is now open. Please submit your abstract until March 21 2017!

Audience and Focus of TRA 2018:

TRA 2018 is an arena for researchers, scientists and engineers, companies and public authorities active in the field of transport. It welcomes policy makers and stakeholders framing research and transport policy.

 Key focus areas will be:

  • How digitalisation is transforming  transport & mobility systems

  • Decarbonisation & future growth – how to change our mobility system & remain competitive

  • Shaping the new mobility landscape – a vision for transport & mobility for Europe

The TRA 2018 programme includes a range of different session formats that will offer ample opportunity to share information on recent findings and to discuss the aforementioned challenges and opportunities. In scientific and technical sessions, a broad spectrum of research and innovation activities will be discussed, ranging from basic research findings over application-oriented engineering and socio-economic aspects to policies and standards.

CfP topics of TRA 2018 scientitfic and technical sessions:

  1. Environment and Energy Efficiency

  2. Vehicles & Vessels – Design, Development and Production

  3. Advanced Propulsion Systems

  4. Smart Urban Mobility & Logistics

  5. People Mobility – Systems and Services

  6. Freight Transport and Logistics

  7. Transport Infrastructure

  8. Connected and Automated Transport

  9. Digital Technologies for Transport

  10. Safe, Secure and Resilient Transport Systems

  11. Human Dimension in Transport

  12. Socio-Economics, Innovation and Policy

TRA 2018 modes:

  1. Road

  2. Rail

  3. Waterborne            

  4. Aviation       

  5. Cross-modal

  6. Not mode-specific

Important Dates:

21 December 2016     -                        Call for abstracts opens
21 March 2017            -                       Abstracts due
31 May 2017               -                       Abstracts review decision sent to authors
15 September 2017    -                       Full paper due
25 November 2017     -                       Full paper review decision sent to authors
16-19 April 2018          -                       7 th European Transport Research Arena, Reed Messe Wien, Vienna/Austria


For more details please see the attached document or consult the TRA 2018 website:  


Please note that also the 1st Call for Expression of Interest for the TRA 2018 Interactive Zone is already open. And have a look at the TRA Visions 2018 competitions launch. More information thereto in the first TRA 2018 newsletter.


Diesel only has eight years left according to industry executives
12 Jan 2017:

Battery-powered electric vehicles will dominate the marketplace within the next eight years, according to senior executives in the UK car industry.

In a striking landscape switch, the technology synonymous with diesel cars is predicted to be consigned to the scrap heap, as manufacturers embrace more efficient, eco-conscious forms of fuel.

Professional services giant KPMG reported back on its annual Global Automotive Executive Survey, with figures suggesting a revolution against diesel, which is fast losing importance for manufacturers.

Only last month, a group of doctors led a campaign for London to follow in the footsteps of other major European capitals in banning diesel vehicles.

As many as 90% of executives expect battery electric cars to have pole position in the marketplace by 2025 – with 93% of them revealing their plans to start investing in the technology needed for the switch during the next five years.

Furthermore, a telling 62% say diesel is losing its significance with major car brands.

READ MORE: Petrol and diesel prices rise to highest for 18 months

The survey was completed by senior executives across all auto industry areas including suppliers, dealers and manufacturers plus providers of mobility service and financial services.

KPMG’s John Leech explained that “almost the whole automotive industry” is convinced the next decade will stage the mass adoption of electric cars.

Mr Leech puts this assertion down to improvements in the “cost and range of battery technology, coupled with growing concern over the emission of both carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides from diesel engines”.

Perhaps surprisingly, some 74% of executives think more than half of car owners today would ideally not want to own a vehicle.

IN OTHER NEWS: Mayor pledges to double London’s clean air efforts

Researchers believe there will be fewer cars and therefore less money to be made from building vehicles in the future as people may opt to use, rent or pay for a car service rather than to own a car.

Mr Leech said: “Carmakers plan to sell myriad of new digital services to vehicle users.

“Today car makers already make substantial profits from the sale of consumer finance and annual vehicle insurance but this will grow in the future as innovative services such as remote vehicle monitoring and the integration of the car as a focal point in people's ever more connected lifestyles are demanded by consumers.”

Copyright Press Association 2017. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.

Compulsory “clean stickers” for vehicles in Paris
11 Jan 2017:

Paris has passed a new regulation which requires vehicles to display a “clean sticker” indicating the cleanliness of the vehicle in high pollution areas.

Effective from January 2017, cars will be graded from one to six – each signified by a different coloured sticker which must be placed on the windscreen.

The different grades are awarded according to a number of factors, such as the car’s year of registration, its energy efficiency, and its emission quantity.

Air pollution has become a severe problem in major cities like Paris, and the French capital were last week forced to forbid half of its vehicles from entering the city centre– with the introduction of an alternating traffic rule which banned cars with either odd or even registration plates.

The measure was stopped after the levels of pollution dropped over the week end but it is feared that they will rise again with rush-hour traffic.

The new regulation, which has been applied progressively since summer 2016, will now be compulsory for all vehicles except for emergency vehicles, vintage cars and certain delivery and security vans.

Vehicles which fail to have their stickers will be banned from the specific high pollution zones or low emissions zones (ZCR) during week days.

The low emissions zones will be defined by local authorities according to pollution evaluations.

The French Minister of Environment, Ségolène Royal, said: “What we now need is a revolution bringing clean transport, responsible cities, electric vehicles in cities and different ways of moving around.”

The “superbonus scheme” is another measure aimed at lowering the levels of pollution in cities, granting a €10,000 (£8,400) payment for vehicles owners who change an old polluting vehicle for an electric one.

The scheme has been applied to private car owners until now, but there are plans to extend it to taxis and vans as well.

Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has said she hopes that the capital will be free of diesel vehicles by 2020, and the whole France by 2025.

Freight calls for Government support for switch to green fuels
10 Jan 2017:

The Freight Transport Association calls on the Government to give transport operators similar support to the car sector by providing significant financial support to help achieve more widespread industry take-up of green fuels and technologies.

FTA’s comments follow today’s release of the final figures from the Government’s Low Carbon Truck Trial which put more than 350 gas-powered HGVs on UK roads and supported over 15 public refuelling stations.

The trial has given industry the opportunity to test alternative fuels to diesel: however, operators believe that alternatively-fuelled truck numbers will decline if further financial support is not provided to help bridge the gap to large-scale commercialisation.  

Rachael Dillon, FTA’s Climate Change Policy Manager, said: “The new Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial announced over summer 2016 and the extension of the plug-in vehicle grant to vans over 3.5 tonnes were welcome moves to help the industry reduce its environmental impact.  However, the majority of Government funding to date has been allocated to cars.  The UK gas truck fleet makes up just 0.2 per cent of the overall truck fleet and there is potential for significant progress to be made in increasing these numbers.  However, if the Government is serious about increasing the presence of ‘green’ trucks on our roads, it must ensure that it continues to help provide facilities and incentives for operators to use them.”

As operators seek to achieve further significant reductions in carbon emissions and to improve air quality performance beyond Euro VI in the 2020s, FTA asserts that they will require financial support to adopt greener fuels and low carbon technologies, alongside government policies that support alternatives.  The industry believes that high costs of vehicle conversions or purchasing ultra-low emission vehicles plus a lack of public refuelling infrastructure are significant barriers to putting greener trucks on the road.

Ms Dillon added: “It is crucial that renewable fuels such as biomethane can be utilised in trucks to bring bigger emission reductions, especially when there are limited options for heavier vehicles to decarbonise.  Government must incentivise the production of biomethane for use as a road transport fuel rather than through the heat sector.”

Additionally, DfT has also released results of Emissions Testing of Gas-Powered Commercial Vehicles today, which recommend that Government continues to support the development of gas vehicle infrastructure and gas powered vehicles.

New stations charge EVs in under 15 minutes
10 Jan 2017:

ChargePoint’s new stations are capable of delivering up to 400 kW to a single vehicle, charging vehicles in less than 15 minutes. 

One of the largest challenges inhibiting the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is the fear amongst consumers that their vehicle could run out of charge whilst travelling and that charging it will be hugely time-consuming.

California-based firm, ChargePoint, hopes to alleviate these concerns with the introduction of their Express Plus ultra-fast DC charging network.

The chargers, which will debut at station operators this summer, will enable owners to charge their vehicle in just minutes, the time it takes them to stop for a coffee.

Pasquale Romano, Chief Executive of ChargePoint, said: "By the time your latte hits the end of the counter, your car’s probably charged. That’s what we want to get this to".

He also said: "The benchmark for us was gasoline…it can’t be any harder than going to a gas station."

Traditional petrol station stops take approximately 10 minutes and replenish at least 300 miles of range in most cars.

Currently, the best EV chargers can deliver 145 kW, replenishing 170 miles of range in roughly 30 minutes.

Express Plus is capable of delivering up to 400 kW to a single vehicle in less than 15 minutes.

The high-efficiency power conversion of Express Plus – more than 96 per cent efficiency – reduces electricity costs and wasted energy.

ChargePoint doesn't operate any EV charging stations; instead it sells equipment and licenses its technology to other businesses such as hotels or malls that wish to provide charging services to their customers.

One of the advantages of Express Plus, Romano said, is that it is both flexible and scalable.

Today, it can charge the current array of EVs, but it can also be upgraded to handle the EVs of the future, such as buses and trucks.

Consequently, station owners can start small and expand to the highest charging capacity in the industry without any stranded investment by adding more Power Modules, Stations and Power Cubes as demand increases.

Roaming for car-sharers on the horizon as ‘access economy’ accelerates
10 Jan 2017:

People who use car-sharing services could soon be able to roam with different providers when travelling, much in the same way as people do with their mobile phone networks, thanks to a new piece of software which its inventor says will also help make car sharing economically viable in smaller cities and rural areas.

It’s part of the continued expansion of the sharing economy – also known as the access or collaborative economy – in which people share access to resources such as accommodation, housing and professional services. The size of the EU’s sharing economy grew from EUR 10 billion in 2013 to EUR 28 billion in 2015, and it is expected to grow 10 times faster than the wider economy over the next 10 years.

João Félix is the founder of Portuguese company Mobiag, which has received EU funding to help develop the roaming capability for car sharing. Like many innovations, he says the idea stemmed from personal experience.

‘I was in London (UK) and I was a member of one of the existing providers at the time. Quickly I figured out that mostly I needed the other guy’s car. It didn’t make any sense - why couldn’t I use two cars that were very similar with similar technology? Half of the supply was blocked off to me.’

The idea of the platform, known as MobiCS, is to make all shared cars available to all end users, as long as they are registered with a car-sharing operator in the network. The result from the user’s point of view is that people who use a car-sharing scheme in one city have access to cars in another city or country, without having to sign up for another app and account.

Costs will depend on customers’ current rates plus deals done between different operators behind the scenes, much in the same way as mobile phone roaming is charged today.

Félix says this option to roam across different cities and countries with one car-sharing membership will help provide additional incentives for people to use such a service.

‘We will only use car sharing if it is functional. It can be the cheapest option, it can be the most eco-friendly, but at the end of the day it will only overcome traditional vehicle ownership if people know there is a car there when they need it.’

However, he says that roaming is not the only way that the new software could change the car-sharing market.

Because the platform can be used by companies that have cars for use but do not currently have their own sharing scheme – such as rental companies – as well as companies that have a membership base but no fleet of cars – such as utility companies – it means that car-sharing services can be provided by organisations for whom it is not a core business.

The company demonstrated their software by setting up a brand called Citydrive in Lisbon, Portugal, which pulled together fleets with client managers such as autoclubs, universities and utilities to create a familiar car-sharing platform for users without owning any vehicles of their own.

Félix says this ability to help different players sell car-sharing services under their own brands means the service can be extended to more users.

‘We realised that this could be the idea that takes car sharing up to the next level. Car sharing at the moment is only financially viable in larger cities with high densities. With this market organisation we can extend car sharing outside of the big city. We can extend it into smaller cities … we can even bring it to rural areas using the same players, or even peer-to-peer networks.’

Access to resources

While the idea of sharing access to goods and services is not new, the past few years have seen the sharing economy grow from ad-hoc bartering and swapping into a default behaviour for many people, thanks to the rise of platforms such as Airbnb, Uber and TaskRabbit.

Professor Christian Fieseler from the BI Norwegian Business School sees the current momentum continuing. ‘You could argue a little bit which business model will be successful in the end … but this principle of the access-based economy, I think that’s very much a case which will stay with us and which will … increasingly become part of more standard business models.’

He says that the sharing economy is a big shift which has implications beyond economics. ‘The big difference in the last five, six years is that there are new intermediaries in the middle, those platforms which facilitate the trust that people are willing to share their belongings with people … they essentially don’t know.’

Prof. Fieseler has received funding for a year-long project, starting this January, to look at some of the issues that are being thrown up, such as how the sharing economy affects our concept of privacy and how people who are unable to participate - for example by having poor internet access - could be left behind. It's one of a series of EU-funded projects that draws on the social sciences and humanities to understand how developments in digital technologies are affecting society and to promote responsible research.

By surveying and interviewing people who are active and inactive in the sharing economy, Prof. Fieseler and his team will also investigate who profits from the sharing economy, the impact on workers whose employer is a platform, and the set up of the platforms themselves.

‘The larger question is who is essentially profiting from this whole development. Some scholars and activists (ask) why … are we using platforms that are owned by shareholders, why don’t we make up our own cooperatives?

‘Uber, Airbnb and so on, they tend to take around 20 % to 30 % of the overall transaction value and you could argue why is that really necessary when the work is done by the users? This is just an argument but something that we want to look at.’

By the end of the project the researchers aim to have produced guidelines for companies in the sector to ensure they are aware of these issues.