According to recent projections, the volume of freight traffic is expected to rise from 371 billion tonne-km in 1997 to 608 billion tkm by the year 2015. This corresponds to an increase of 64.1 %. With an expected increase of 105 %, road transit through Germany will contribute a significant share to this growth. Long-distance haulage on the roads is projected to rise from 236 billion tkm to 402 billion tkm (+ 70.8 %) in 2015. Its modal share will be 66.4 %.
In order to shift the forecasted increase of road haulage to rail, current rail transport performance (2000: 74 billion tkm) would have to be more than three times higher by 2015. This represents a formidable challenge, and research and development must make a contribution to overcoming this challenge.
The stated objective of the German federal government is to assign a greater role to rail freight traffic in the future. Therefore, the promotion of innovation in rail freight traffic has been given high priority by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) within the framework of its research programme 'Mobility and Transport' which was announced in close co-operation with the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Housing (BMVBW) in March 2000. The announcement defined the primary objective: 'Against the trend: more freight on rail and ship'.
These objectives are to be realised within the key vision 'European Rail Freight Transport 2010'.
The BMBF intends to fund research and development projects in the area of rail freight transport - preferably projects with a trans-national dimension. The R&D should provide a sound basis for efficient and economic structuring of the total investment necessary to achieve this goal.
This key vision is aimed at effecting the modernisation of rail freight transport. This means using R&D to heighten the efficiency and attractiveness of carriers to such a degree that the largest portion possible of the projected increases in long distance haulage on road can be shifted to rail ('Added truck freight volume to Rail!'). This also includes innovations in railway sidings - an important interface between shipper and carrier - in order to improve the logistic competency of the rail system in single wagon traffic.
Projects aimed at developing innovative technologies, forms of organisation and modes of operation which lead to either completely new or improved solutions with significant potential for efficiency and/or a shift of freight to rail may be eligible for funding.
The funding rules described here refer to the 'Mobility and Transport' sector programme, which defines the procedures for all related sub-programmes.
Funding is provided for research and development as well as demonstration projects which aim to promote sustainable mobility and contribute to creating an efficient and safe transport system.
The most important ongoing funding activities include the lead projects for improving mobility in conurbations, which develop and demonstrate systems solutions for transport in big cities.
Furthermore funding is provided for project networks to increase the efficiency of freight traffic, to reduce environmental stress caused by traffic, particularly road traffic, and to increase road safety. As mobility and transport take place in a constantly changing social environment, relevant activities will include the interdisciplinary study of the social aspects of individual mobility.
All commercial and non-commercial institutions and individuals are eligible for funding. Depending upon the subject, these include in particular institutions of higher education, non-university research establishments and similar institutions, business enterprises, territorial authorities and associations. In some cases, calls for proposals are addressed to specific groups of potential applicants. The focus is on projects which involve co-operation by several partners who, in an interdisciplinary approach and on the basis of shared responsibility, develop highly innovative solutions for the above-mentioned funding activities and/or try to demonstrate their suitability for practical application and which, by involving or co-operating with science, industry and the planning sector, aim to ensure utilisation of the research results on the broadest possible scale.
(Projektträger Mobilität und Verkehr, Bauen und Wohnen des BMBF; PT MVBW)