Research focuses on methods to bridge the gap between the cost of transport and the revenue to be generated from operation of transport systems. This includes pricing and taxation instruments that provide the capital up front for the construction and renewal of infrastructure as well as cash management tools and credit enhancement and/ or investment tools. Financing tools include the creation of suitable organisational structures with the capacity to manage new approaches in financing.
As in other network industries, the transport sector has elements of high fixed costs and large economies of scale that hamper the market entry of new actors and the development of effective competition. As many services show low profitability, state subsidies and the provision of public services are common practice. Competition in the transport sector is often further impeded by deviating standards across transport modes and countries. Research provides the basis for setting regulatory standards. Regulation may be used to facilitate competition, as well as to achieve specific transport objectives, such as safety.
Research covers planning, financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure in all transport modes. The theme includes modal transfers, and information and communication networks to support traffic management. The theme also includes the development of TEN-T networks and terminals in all transport modes, which is a key aspect of the EU transport strategy.
Research focuses on integrated planning of transport systems and land use to identify ways to reduce traffic congestion, energy use and vehicle emissions. Furthermore, it covers increasing the density of settlement structures and developing land-use patterns in order to encourage provision and use of public transport as well as to facilitate the use of slow modes.
Research is carried out in support of policies dedicated to mitigating climate change, which is a central goal of EU transport policy. Policies focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions using instruments such as emission trading systems and setting regulations. Research on energy efficiency is directed, for instance, to potential policy measures, and technological, economic and behaviour changes in order to reduce energy consumption per output indicator (such as, passenger or tonne-kilometre).
Transport safety concerns exposure of people, goods and property to potential hazards in all parts of the transport system and may vary according to transport mode. Research is accessing acceptable levels of risk according to the choices made by individuals, whether operating staff, drivers or passengers. Security research aims at protecting people, goods and transport systems from real and perceived threat of crime, terrorism, negligence, technical failures or natural disasters.
Research covers the requirements for transport between EU Member States, and neighbourhood countries and other countries worldwide. Specific research focuses are integration of EU transport networks and systems with external countries and regions, directed to facilitating the movement of goods and passengers, as well as integrated safety and security systems.
Research ranges from the role of transport users and their influence on achieving long-term objectives of transport policy to the protection of user rights and interests. It includes improving information provision to transport users and increasing user awareness of the implications of their transport choices. The theme embraces user perspectives on the quality of transport services, such as reliability, flexibility, comfort, affordability and convenience.