The Balkan peninsula is an important crossroad in Europe. The creation of a training and research centre in the field of railway transport as part of the European research and education area contributes to the development of modern, competitive, safe and comfortable railways in the Balkans.
The aim of the project was to found an international research and training centre in the field of railway transport in the Balkans.
Specific objectives and priorities are:
- to enable further collaboration in the field of research and transport staff training in the region;
- to provide experience exchange and dissemination of research results;
- to create information databases and make them available for the needs of cooperation in future projects;
- to facilitate the applicability of research for improving railway transport in the Balkan peninsula.
The centre will be based at the Higher School of Transport in Sofia and will be open for membership and joint activities to all research and educational institutions in the region and Europe.
The centre will work to achieve:
- coordination of the institutional activities in research and education;
- increasing the scientific potential in the Balkan countries;
- creating joint working and expert groups in the region;
- harmonisation of the railway system on the Balkans with the European one.
The main activities of the project are:
- carrying out surveys on the problems of railway transport in the Balkans in order to present them as priority topics for further research, training courses and mobility, and a survey on the current state of the surface transport in the Balkans in order to outline the most important and urgent problems that must be solved using scientific methods in compliance with ERRAC and EURNEX objectives;
- comparing the existing conditions of transport in the region to the EC requirements of sustainable transport development and the policy of Pan-European corridors in order to select topics for future research projects;
- organising workshops, courses and dissemination of theoretical and applied science results;
- providing support to regional scientific forums, publishing activities and other events, enhancing the institutional and personal collaboration in the region;
- summarising the objectives of the national transport policies in the Balkan countries to find out problems of common interest;
- encouraging the cooperation between the scientists from the Balkan countries, providing support to young researchers and PhD students and encouraging the development of joint projects with transport companies and industrial enterprises;
- collecting information about the possibilities of RRTC to support common activities of researchers and university teachers;
- providing support to publishing conference proceedings, books, lecture scripts, leaflets and other advertising materials.
The target groups and potential participants are:
- research and educational institutions;
- companies and enterprises connected with railway transport and industry;
- national and international professional organisations.
The participants in the project will elaborate its statute, structure, organisation and strategy oriented to enlarge the scope, of integrated research and training activities in the field of surface transport.
The main activities accomplished under the project expanded the collaboration of universities and research institutes in the region and facilitated the foundation of the centre. The core team encouraged networking in the field of transport research and training in the Balkan countries and managed to transfer part of the established interpersonal relations to an institutional level.
The RRTC project supported two of the most attractive and most influential scientific forums in the region, the15th International Conference Transport 2005 and the 16th International Conference Transport 2006 organised by the VTU in Sofia: That enabled many scientists from the region to present their research results and find partners for joint investigations and collaboration.
The activities under the project also enriched the forms of cooperation between the partners’ institutions. They included teachers’ mobility for delivering lectures and participation in scientific councils, commissions for diploma paper assessment and chairing scientific sessions, reviewing books, exchanging of teaching materials, etc.
Finally, it should be underlined that the RRTC project also had a high social and political effect. Although it referred to transport and especially railways, due to the significance of both research and education, its impact went far beyond that sector. As a whole, the project contributed both to the processes of reintegration in the Balkan region and to the EU research policy implementation.
Another real achievement of the project was the start of a new MSc programme at the VTU, Automated Design in Manufacturing. Because of its universal contents, it can be further adopted as a joint university course for transport staff training in the region. Despite the intention to implement a more ambitious program of transport staff lifelong learning, the project team managed to organise only two courses in Sofia and Kraljevo.