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Department for Transport - Central Initiatives (including DfT Horizons)


DfT Chief Scientific Adviser's Programme

Department for Transport - Central Initiatives (including DfT Horizons)

Background & policy context: 

Included here are a number (but not all) of the cross-departmental initiatives addressing broad issues beyond the remit of individual policy-driven programmes. New Horizons and DfT Horizons are responsive to ideas from external researchers and support innovative research about future challenges and opportunities. Projects supported can cover the whole range of the Department's operations and responsibilities. Outside these two Departmental programmes are projects in schemes promoted elsewhere in Government (e.g. Treasury Summer Placements in Whitehall) and individual projects where the objective addresses common issues (e.g. management of research).

Strategic Objectives: 

The objectives, in relation to each of the three sub-themes, are as follows:

Central Initiatives: This sub-programme funds research work which addresses central (or cross-cutting) issues or is driven by particular central initiatives. This includes research management issues but excludes New Horizons and Transport LINK programmes which are managed and reported separately. Since 2001, initiatives covered by this sub-programme have included projects part-funded through the Treasury's Summer Placement in Whitehall scheme.

DfT Horizons: The objective of this responsive programme is to alert and inform the Department about long-term potential opportunities and risks to achieving its policy and operational objectives. Innovative thinking on opportunities and challenges beyond conventional planning is required. The research will identify and investigate areas where change in the external environment (e.g. technological advance, social trends, environmental or economic challenges) could affect the policies or operation of DfT. Following the First Call in November 2003 the programme supported six projects, while the Second Call in February 2005 approved funding for three projects investigating the handling and analysis of large datasets. The Third Call for proposals looking at the infrastructure requirements of hydrogen-fuelled transport was announced in January 2006.

New Horizons: The New Horizons Programme (2000-02) was an opportunity for researchers to investigate solutions to current or emerging problems, or where the application of techniques and ideas in one area might offer useful advances in others. The freedom to think in the medium to long term, anticipating new issues and long-term solutions was paramount. Projects researching anticipated social, environmental and economic challenges, or looking at innovative methodology have been supported by the programme. In collaboration with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) the programme is also part-funding a number of studentships at various universities.

Programme organisation: 

The transport policy context and organisation are indicated by the programme's three sub-themes: Central Initiatives, DfT Horizons and New Horizons.

Leading Institutions:

Department for Transport

Type of funding:
Participating countries: 
United Kingdom
Total number of projects: 


Projects covered: 

Examples of projects within this programme include:

  • Road Network Information - Pilot Study
  • Modelling the linkages between transport and the economy in remote and peripheral areas 
  • National Transport Data Framework 
  • Visioning and Backcasting for UK Transport Policy 
  • Achieving Personal Security in Future Domestic Travel 
  • Sustainable Lifestyles: An Exploratory Analysis 
  • The Implications of Income, Taste and Substitution Effects for the Assessment of User Benefits Using Discrete Choice Models 
  • Transport and Access to Health Care 
  • The Potential of New Information Technology
Project Profiles:
  1. Advancing Methods For Evaluating Network Reliability
  2. Clarifying Qualitative Sub-Objectives in Appraisal
  3. Impact of Sustainable Transport Policies on the Travel Behaviour of Shoppers
  4. Psychological Factors Affecting Transport Mode Choice
  5. Sustainable Lifestyles: An Exploratory Analysis
  6. The Implications of Income, Taste and Substitution Effects for the Assessment of User Benefits Using Discrete Choice Models
  7. The Use of GPS to Improve Travel Data
  8. Transport and Access to Health Care - The Potential of New Information Technology
Contact Name: 
Contact Email: 
Department for Transport
Research and Technology Strategy, Zone 4/19, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street
Contact country:
(+44) 207 944 8300
Fax Number: 
(+44) 207 944 2356