TRA2024 Themes

  1. Safe & Inclusive Transport
  2. Sustainable Mobility of People and Goods
  3. Efficient & Resilient Systems
  4. Collaborative Digitalisation

Conference Sub-themes

Participants are encouraged to discuss the following sub-themes, which are intended to provide a structure for a thorough discussion of the challenges facing the transport sector and the multi-disciplinary ways in which these are being addressed.

Safe & Inclusive Transport

Theme 1

The coming decade will see green and digital transitions within the European transport sector, and social engagement and acceptance will be key for these changes to successfully take effect. There is an imperative to place the user at the heart of policies and solutions proposed to deliver a more inclusive transport system. A better understanding of behavioural drivers will lead to more sustainable and efficient modal choices with improved safety performance. These transitions will also be an enabler for economic growth, supporting the single market and international co-operation. This will create new employment opportunities, and the evolving transport sector will create markets for new skills and training. Papers are invited in the following areas:

1.1 Transport Safety

Our transport systems are becoming increasingly digitalised, and this is occurring in a time when society expects our mobility services to continuously improve. Advances in areas such as passive, active & tertiary safety, human-machine interfaces & technological integration and autonomous vehicle risk assessment must ensure very high safety levels for a more inclusive & safer transport system.

1.2 Future Workforce & Skills
New mobility technologies and solutions are changing the way in which people and goods move around Europe and internationally, and this has significant implications for the millions that work within the transport labour market. These technologies will require new skills, new curricula & specialities, and policies that support / educate / re-train employees will be central to this transition.
1.3 People-Centred & Inclusive Transport
An important consideration for all transport research is the position occupied by people. Transport accessibility and connectivity have significant impacts on social equity & affordability, and issues of gender, poverty and vulnerability remain a major focus. The role of human behaviour in adapting & using sustainable mobility is vital, as are new ways of testing technologies and preparing people for the transition (e.g. testbeds).
1.4 Transport Policy
Transport policy should address pertinent social issues, while also providing the framework for new business opportunities and ensuring the competitiveness of the European transport sector. Transport accessibility, strategic planning, active mobility, and micro-mobility can all contribute to sustainable urban and regional mobility of people and goods. They also play an important role in supporting entrepreneurship and cross-modal cooperation, stakeholder involvement (both public and private), international cooperation and competition policy, regulation, and the liberalisation of services.

Sustainable Mobility of People & Goods

Theme 2

Today transport represents about 25% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and addressing this is a core element of the European Green Deal. Goals have been set of at least a 55% reduction in transport-related GHGs by 2030 and 90% by 2050. This must also be accompanied by reduced environmental impact and associated loss of biodiversity.

The path to sustainable mobility requires multi-disciplinary research and innovation across all sectors of society. Our transport systems must foster cohesion, reduce regional disparities, and improve connectivity and access to the internal market for all. There is a need for greener mobility of people and goods, supported by zero-emissions vehicles and systems.

2.1 Urban, Regional & Rural Transport
The transition to sustainable mobility requires a clear focus on active, collective, and shared mobility. Implementing this in urban, regional, and rural settings however presents a wide range of challenges, such as investment priorities, equity and universal access, citizen engagement, sustainable urban, rural, & regional mobility plans, mobility management plans, access to and a better design of urban spaces.
2.2 Zero Emissions Transport
Zero-emissions transport is a core element of international and European climate action strategies and actions are required across all transport modes. Key issues include zero-emissions ports & airports, zero-emission vehicles, vessels & aircraft and the use of financial incentives to support this transition. Decarbonisation of transport can only be achieved through a combination of different technologies (including electromobility, hydrogen and other sustainable alternative fuels).
2.3 Impact on Health & the Environment
Transport activities can have significant environmental and social / health impacts and addressing these is fundamental to our response in overcoming the climate and biodiversity crises. There is a need for innovative practices to adapt and mitigate the negative impacts of transport emissions and to promote and enhance biodiversity in sustainable cities, regions, and communities.
2.4 Logistics & Sustainable Transport

Supply chain emissions are a challenge for all sectors and solutions are needed to support the transition to zero emissions logistics. Interconnectivity between long-distance and ‘first and last mile’ connections is critical for efficient freight transport, as are advances in freight intermodality, load optimisation processes and energy-efficient fleets.

Efficient & Resilient Systems

Theme 3

The green and digital transitions will offer significant opportunities to Europe’s citizens and businesses, but their success will also be dependent on a transport system that can meet the increasing demands. Recent experiences have shown that our transport systems may be subjected to disruption (pandemics, climate change, cyber-attacks etc) – their resilience to withstand and recover from these is essential. This places increased demands on our infrastructures and operations, which must make use of new innovations to support appropriate management & investment.

This required resilience will also link to energy supply and access to raw materials, as our transport systems move from fossil fuels to more sustainable alternatives. There is a clear need to apply circular economy principles to all elements of the transport system. Finally, strategic autonomy of the European transport sector will become key in a world of a changing geopolitical context.

3.1 Resilient Infrastructure

Creating resilient, multi-modal infrastructure is essential for society, and it must now respond to a diverse range of hazards. Key to their continued functioning is predictive maintenance and autonomous monitoring offers new ways forward. In other cases, the use of nature-based solutions or advanced materials offer alternative approaches to deploy and manage infrastructure.

3.2 Resilient Networks & Operations

In recent years transport infrastructures and networks have been subjected to increased threats that pose severe challenges on the way infrastructure and networks are managed and operated. Moreover, the fast development in IT technology and widescale application across transport operations and management is on one side enabling a digital transformation, and on the other hand increasing the threats the transport network might be exposed to. In this sense how to find a balance among the introduction of innovative IT-based technologies and solutions (e.g. digital twins, AI-based inspections, etc.) and the new threats (e.g. cyber and man-made in terms of sabotages and intentional actions) that from their massive use might arise is a key topic to be further elaborated and discussed.

3.3 Circular Economy & Life Cycle Assessments

The circular economy is a core element of the European Green Deal and an essential component in our efforts to reduce pressure on natural resources. Successful implementation requires the application of circular economy principles to all steps in the value chain, for all components of the transport system (vehicles, batteries, fuels, infrastructure etc). Innovative sustainable procurement processes are increasingly required, and life cycle assessments will play a key role in their use.

3.4 Transport Energy Transition

Energy is a critical element for a resilient transport system, and the transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable sources of energy is a major technical challenge. Significant hurdles will include sufficient charging & refuelling infrastructures and advances in battery technology for electric vehicles, the development of sustainable alternative fuels such as hydrogen and other technological advances in waterborne, aviation and in high-speed rail across Europe.

Collaborative Digitalisation

Theme 4

Digitalisation is a key driver of change in the transport sector and will lead to efficiencies in all modes, through solutions such as Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), automated mobility, Mobility as a Service (MaaS) etc. The digital transition will place data sharing as a key requirement for Europe to achieve efficient connectivity, leading to open questions on governance, cyber security and open science. Digital infrastructure (5G and beyond) will be a key enabler, as will the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital technologies.

4.1 Digital Transition

Digitalisation is driving the transition to smart mobility, enabled by advances in AI, the internet of things (IoT) and data science. This is opening up new possibilities as digital twins and blockchain can support more efficient logistics operations, and new solutions for mobility of people.

4.2 Transport Data Sharing

The sharing of data is opening up new opportunities for business and society to utilise the large amounts of data generated across modes and sectors (including energy). Public authorities & businesses need access to data for planning & monitoring. This requires new solutions to address issues of data governance and European data regulations seek to create a single market for data that will work with GDPR requirements and the future European mobility data space. This approach is in agreement with the principles of open science, while cybersecurity remains an ongoing challenge.

4.3 Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility

Advances in autonomous mobility are having transformative effects in all transport modes. Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM) exploits the connectivity between road vehicles / bikes / aircraft / trains / vessels and with infrastructure, seeking to address traffic safety and reduce both congestion and GHG emissions. In related fields, we are also seeing advances in urban air mobility, and automated terminal operations, new mobility services and logistics.

4.4 Digital Transport Infrastructure

The digital transition will place significant emphasis on the supporting digital infrastructure, with connectivity to 5G a key issue. This connectivity underpins smart infrastructure, enabling sensor-based monitoring, digital twins and the physical internet. The advent of 6G will have a transformative effect for future transport systems.