A large number of research actions and significant investments have been dedicated to the investigation of safety aspects in transportation in recent years. The Transport Research Knowledge Centre lists in its database several hundreds of international projects funded by the European Union (EU) or other international or national agencies. These initiatives are contributing to the current trend towards a significant safety advancement for users, operators and equipment in all modes of transportation, as evidenced by the review reports of the European transportation safety agencies and organisations.
However, the approaches to safety adopted in the different modes of transportation are quite different in part because of the different operational conditions, equipment and user needs, and in part because of historical and traditional reasons. These differences are deepened by the adoption of increasingly sophisticated tools, techniques and complex systems, addressing the vehicles, and the associated transport system. The resulting fragmentation of the research actions does not allow the exploitation of the several possible synergies that could be possible between the different transportation modes.
EXCROSS is a Supporting Action of the European Commission to enhance cross-fertilisation and synergies between safety research initiatives in four different transport modes (road, aviation, maritime and railway). EXCROSS addresses the fragmentation that exists in Europe between safety initiatives in the different modes, with little cross-domain learning and sharing of experience, and investigate systematically the potential synergies and the areas where an improvement and a coordination of the research effort could benefit more than one transportation mode.
The main objectives of the Supporting Action are:
- Identify synergies and opportunities for cross fertilization between different transport modes;
- Identify potential cross cutting researches between different transport modes, strategic research domains where the research efforts need to be emphasized to exploit synergies, remove discrepancies and address research gaps;
- Establish a collaboration on this subject with organisations from other technologically advanced countries and with regulator and safety agencies.
To achieve these objectives, the project started from the solid background of its consortium to identify the similarities between domains that can facilitate the cross-fertilisation, and the research gaps common to the different transport modes to remove discrepancies. Safety principles and safety issues in each domain were shared to develop a mutual understanding of the most relevant safety aspects of the respective domains and provide hints on those areas which are the main focus of safety related research activities. On these bases, the consortium identified, classified and selected relevant European and national safety research projects for its projects database.
The database supported the analysis process, performed using two complementary approaches. The “Bottom-up” approach consisted in the identification of individual projects dealing with safety activities in one transportation mode and search the EXCROSS database for related ones in other modes, dealing with the same issue. This approach supported the identification of relevant safety research projects in each domain. However little cross-mode relevance was present because domain projects are very specific. The “Bottom-up” approach was thus integrated with a “Top-down” one, which started from the identification of cross-domain hot research topics on the basis of partners’ expertise and searched the database for projects addressing those topics. This second approach was particularly effective to compare the research activities and identify the potential research gaps.
Seven topics were selected for the analysis, as the ones on which more extensive cross-fertilisation opportunities were found. These topics do not represent the most important topics on the research agenda, only the ones where cross-fertilisation seemed more promising. For each topic the potential synergies and cross-fertilisation opportunities were identified, altogether with existing success cases (if any), like previous projects that already tackled the topic in a cross-modal perspective.
Certification: the analysis of this topic focussed on the reduction of certification costs and effort via cross-domain activities. Two major areas of work concern the certification of cross-domain embedded systems components, and the development of common certification processes. Hints for future cross-domain or multi-domain research on this topic are:
- Development of a multi-domain knowledge base, useful for stimulating the research on the productive and certification processes, and creation of political and legislative initiatives to foster and ease multi-domain standardisation.
- Certification of the management of data ownership and Intellectual Property Rights in all safety-related matters.
- Confidence in safety certification vs. liability in case of accidents.
- Certification of protection against cyber-attacks, in analogy with the Safety Integrity Level described in CENELEC norms (e.g. EN50129).
- Certification of multi-domain components to allow working in different harsh environments (e.g. icing conditions).
Dangerous Goods transportation: the topic deals with the safe transport of dangerous goods by improving the cargo securing, the safety of the vehicle which is carrying the cargo and safe routing of cargo transport. The topic deals also with the safety of surrounding people, environment and structures. For this topic, the project identified the following hints for future cross-domain or multi-domain research:
- Joint research between rail and road on Tracking and Tracing technologies and sensors to monitor the vehicle/good status, able to take into account the issue of multi-domain certification of the components.
- Standardisation of dangerous goods information and data sharing across domain, possibly through an on-line database.
- Development of trans-domain decision support systems to handle environmental accidents caused by or involving dangerous goods.
- Transfer of knowledge on vibrating