The current challenges faced by the European transport and mobility industry will be discussed in Lisbon this fall at the the Transport Research Arena (TRA) conference. The event is scheduled to take place from the 14th to the 17th of November at the Lisbon Congress Center, in the historical area of Belém, on the banks of the Tagus River. Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, will be present at the opening ceremony, while Adina Vălean, EU Commissioner for Transport, will do the honors at the end of the event.
On September 27th, during a press briefing at the Press Club in Brussels, Patrick Mercier-Handisyde, European Commission Senior Policy Officer at DG Research and Innovation (DG RTD), highlighted the relevance of this event given that it is meant to create exchanges that would otherwise not happen. Researchers, industry leaders and policy makers are set to discuss the latest advances in technologies.
The goal is to make synergies between different transport sectors and exchange knowledge, as well as offering recommendations.Patrick Mercier-Handisyde, Senior Policy Officer DG RTD
The congress is designed to be multimodal, where experts from different fields and industries can learn from each other. “People coming together can take decisions that can help steer the way forward,” said Mercier-Handisyde.
Themed “Moving together – reimagining mobility worldwide, TRA has been designed around three main themes, which will be explored in detail during the four days: Smart Solutions and Society; Green Mobility and Decarbonization; Innovative Infrastructure for Europe 2030; and Policies and Economics for a Competitive Europe. In turn, each theme will have a subset of more specific sub-themes.
1. Smart Solutions and Society
These solutions are based on higher levels of connectivity and automation, offering more sustainable, inclusive mobility services. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a reality, and big data and AI techniques are providing authorities and transport operators with powerful tools to design and operate more flexible, resilient and smarter forms of mobility.
“Mobility for all is a very important topic for the Commission,” said Mercier-Handisyde. “Fair, inclusive, affordable and accessible in all places.”
The growth of e-commerce and the importance of urban logistics strongly impact citizens’ quality of life. And along with the transformation of public spaces, new forms of service co-creation have therefore to be investigated and promoted.
The sub-themes are: user-focus and inclusive mobility; connected and automated multimodal mobility; innovation and the use of data, Artificial Intelligence; Efficient and Innovative logistics.
2. Green Mobility and Decarbonization
Decarbonization for a climate-neutral economy by 2050 is a global challenge addressed by the European Green Deal, pointing, namely, to the ambitious goal of reducing 90% of greenhouse emissions from transport. Likewise, the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy of the EC reinforces the importance of sustainable mobility for achieving an irreversible shift to zero-emissions across all transport modes, while ensuring other relevant objectives for social well-being.
“We want to boost the uptake of zero-emission vehicles, vessels and aircraft, renewable & low-carbon fuels and related infrastructure,” said Mercier-Handisyde. “Also innovative concepts and services for zero emission mobility and logistics.”
A path to a carbon-neutral and sustainable mobility of people and goods requires multiple and integrated transport solutions, where research and innovation play an essential role, either in urban or interurban networks, and through land, waterborne or air transport, encompassing vehicles technology, infrastructures, operations, mobility services and regulatory tools.
“We are inviting several mayors to the event because cities are also a key component,” said Mercier-Handisyde. “One hundred European cities have the mission of achieving zero carbon by 2030.”
The sub-themes are: carbon neutrality and zero-emission vehicles; energy efficiency, electrification and alternative fuels; sustainable interurban and urban mobility; greening freight transport.
3. Innovative Infrastructure for Europe 2030
Some of the main infrastructure goals include reinforcing the wider single market, maintaining competitiveness, and enhancing cross border integration and interoperability.
“The further development of the TEN-T network is a priority,” said Mercier-Handisyde. “As well as increasing the sustainability of sea ports and airports.”
Infrastructure systems would have to be upgraded to interoperate with novel transport and logistic needs. Sustainable construction and maintenance works are of the essence. Also the exchange of data to accommodate connected and automated vehicles and their energy needs. Some of these objectives are better served by new approaches to design flexible transport hubs, allowing more efficient integration of activities.
“It is crucial to enable a smarter and safer infrastructure while supporting the digital and energy transition through life cycle innovation.”
The sub-themes are: single market for TEN-T and the wider Europe; intelligent, resilient and cooperative infrastructure systems; innovative hubs; safety and security.
4. Policies and Economics for a Competitive Europe
Economic recovery and resilient transport requires transformative policies, collaborative planning frameworks and enhanced financial tools for sustainable and smart mobility. The socioeconomic impacts of micromobility, public transport integration, and multimodality need to be fully explored to answer social equity, health and environmental goals.
“We need to keep developing the strategy for smart and sustainable transport drafted two years ago. A circular economy to enhance sustainability of mobility solutions, including tendering process.”
Competitiveness in Europe requires supporting industrial policy for the digital and green transformation. Challenges include making the transport industry circular, internalize environmental externalities, foster sustainable value chains to yield significant social and environmental benefits and move towards Industry 5.0. European partnerships, multi-stakeholder collaboration and open science in transport research are important seeds for future mobility and innovation.
The sub-themes are: transport planning and policy for recovery and resilience; innovative business and governance models; internalization of transport externalities and pricing carbon; supporting competitiveness and industrial policy.
5. TRA Visions 2022 Awards
Two awards will be given during the conference. The first one, geared toward young researchers, awards prize money to BSc, MSc and PhD students from all over Europe with the main aim of stimulating their interest in the field of transport.
The second one is a competition aimed at senior researchers involved in EU-funded projects, which will identify and acknowledge leaders that generate impactful research in transport across the European Union.
There will also be a EU village with demonstration activities and the display of prototypes co-organized with different partnerships in the transport sector.