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Sustainable Surface Transport

Programme Type
Funding programme
European (European)
European Union
STRIA Roadmaps
Infrastructure (INF)


Background & Policy context

The European transport system is a vital element to European economic and social prosperity. It serves key roles in the transportation of people and goods in a local, regional, national, European and international context. This theme will address some of the ongoing challenges, as recognised in the White Paper on Transport, in improving the contributions that transport systems make to society and industrial competitiveness within an enlarged EU, whilst minimising the negative impacts and consequences of transport in relation to the environment, energy usage, security and public health.

A new integrated approach will be taken which links all transport modes, addresses the socio-economic and technological dimensions of research and knowledge development, and encapsulates both innovation and the policy framework. The various Technology Platforms set up in this field (ERTRAC (road transport), ERRAC (rail transport) and WATERBORNE (waterborne transport)) as well as inputs from other discussion forums such as EIRAC (transport intermodality and logistics) and EURFORUM (urban mobility) have elaborated long-term visions and Strategic Research Agendas (SRA) which constitute useful inputs to the definition of this theme and complement the needs of policy makers and expectations of society.

Selected aspects of the SRAs may justify setting up Joint Technology Initiatives. ERA-NET activities present opportunities to facilitate further trans-national coordination for specific topics within the Transport sector and will be pursued wherever appropriate. Activities of particular relevance to SMEs include efforts to ensure robust technology driven supply chains in the various sectors; enabling SMEs to access research initiatives; and facilitating the role and start-up of high-tech SMEs, particularly in the advanced transport technologies and ‘services-related’ activities specific to transport as well as the development of systems and applications in satellite navigation domains.

Existing policy needs as well as the development, assessment and implementation of new policies (for example Maritime Policy), will be addressed within and across the different activity lines. The work will include studies, models and tools that deal with strategic monitoring and forecasting and integrate knowledge relating to the main economic, social, safety and environmental issues for transport. Activities supporting cross-cutting thematic topics will focus on transport specificities, for example security aspects

Strategic Objectives

To contribute to the central objective of transport research under FP7, which is to develop, based on technological advances, integrated, “greener”, “smarter” and safer pan-European transport systems for the benefit of the citizen and society, respecting the environment and natural resources; and securing and further developing the competitiveness and the leading role attained by the European industries in the global market.

Programme organisation

The Sustainable Surface Transport Work Programme is structured in ACTIVITIES on Greening, Co-modality, Urban Mobility, Safety & Security and Competitiveness, with additional Cross-Cutting activities in support to the implementation of the Sustainable Surface Transport Work Programme across all the others.

Activities are sub-divided in AREAS which are broad domains of investigation, stable during the coming years, and whose expected impacts are indicated.

Areas are addressed by TOPICS. Topics are classified in two levels of categories according to the degree of specification envisaged in the proposals: “level 1" (generic) and "level 2” (specific). There is no direct relation between budget allocation and either topic levels or the funding schemes.

Topics in Level 1, being generic, define broad fields of activity and normally concern the three surface transport modes, unless differently specified in the text. They are technology driven and enable technology synergies and transfer between transport modes. Proposals may be approached with some degree of flexibility, by addressing only part of topic or only one surface transport mode. Research and development activities within level 1 will contribute to the technological foundation of the sub-theme.

Topics in Level 2, being specific, refer to well identified industrial, policy and socio-economic matters. They are explicit in their formulation. They may for example give indications concerning the type of activity, the research approach, characteristics of the partnership and expected outcomes.

More detailed description of each activity is given below.

The greening of surface transport: Developing technologies and knowledge for reduced pollution (air, water and soil) and environmental impact such as climate change, health, biodiversity and noise. Research will improve the cleanliness and energy-efficiency of power-trains and promote the use of alternative fuels, including hydrogen and fuel cells. Activities will cover infrastructure, vehicles, vessels and component technologies, including overall system optimisation. Research in developments specific to transport will include manufacturing, construction, operations, maintenance, repair, inspection, recycling, end of life strategies and interventions at sea in case of accident.

Encouraging modal shift and decongesting transport corridors: Developing and demonstrating seamless door-to-door transport for people and goods as well as technologies to


Institution Type
Institution Name
European Commission
Type of funding
Public (EU)
Programme funding arrangements and funding conditions

The EU Member States have earmarked a total of EUR 4.16 billion for funding the Transport (including Aeronautics) theme over the duration of FP7.

Participating countries


Mr. Frederic Sgarbi
Head of Unit – H2 Surface Transport
European Commission, Research Directorate-General (DG RTD)

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