DEUFRAKO is a bilateral Franco-German scientific and technical research programme, set up in 1978 as a consequence of the EU deregulation initiative. The intention was primarily to advance the planning and implementation of modern guided surface transport systems and more particularly high-speed rail. Both Germany and France are obligatory points of passage for north-south and east-west traffic, are served by very active and extensive networks. Their railway industries are among the most dynamic in the world and they are pioneers in the development of innovative rail technology. If the two systems are to be compatible, certain research activities need to be pursued together. Such co-operation is all the more necessary nowadays to develop a high-speed network throughout Europe.
Initially, the main objective of DEUFRAKO was to reinforce German-French co-operation in modern rail transport to conquer new markets, to increase the performance and simultaneously reduce the resources used in order to ensure environmentally compatible mobility, to shift traffic to more favourable transport systems, and to enhance the interoperability between the national transport systems to develop a performant European network. The main partners were SNCF, DB, and INRETS.
The programme has been extended from 1998 onwards to solve problems in urban transport and freight and to use the great potential of telematics applications. Other stakeholders were included in order to broaden the scope of the activities.
After the French-German forum on research cooperation which was held in 2002, the DeuFraKo programme was further extended to deal with four specific issues: green freight corridors, noise research, security and safety, and smart travelling. New tools for cooperation were proposed for use, such as joint calls for proposals and joint status seminars.
On the French side, the programme operation is undertaken by the ministry of transport and the INRETS institute, with support from other financing bodies in the PREDIT programme. On the German side, the leading institution is the ministry in charge of research and education, with support from the TÜV Rheinland. A DEUFRAKO steering committee meets every year in order to set cooperation objectives and select projects.
Five main areas were targeted to achieve co-operation in the development of innovative transport systems:
- rail transport
- urban transport
- noise in transport.
These areas are open for bottom-up proposals, which are examined by the DeuFraKo committee, with the support of external experts when needed.
Other specific topics may be dealt with through joint calls for proposals. A first joint call was opened in December 2002 on green freight transport corridors.
Joint funding is the standard rule: French public bodies (mainly the ministry of transport) fund the French partners, and the German ministry of research funds the German partners.
Specific conditions are set in calls for proposals.