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Reporting how research is contributing to inland waterway policy

Helping policy makers navigate the latest research on River Information Services (RIS) is a new free brochure that also explains the implications for the future development of Europe's inland waterways.

For transport in the European Union (EU) the main potential barriers to sustainable socio-economic development are traffic congestion, environmental impacts, and economic costs. With accession, future enlargement and economic growth the stage is set for such problems to increase. But what can be done? European researchers have engaged in a raft of pioneering projects that bring the latest developments in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to support traffic and transport management in inland navigation, including interfaces to other modes of transport. Providing such support through harmonised ICT-based information services is called RIS and is explained, along with the political context, in the latest brochure River Information Services: As policy implementation flows from research', published by the EXTR@Web project. The publication outlines how inland waterway transport is seen as a reliable, economical, and environmentally-friendly mode of transport, recognised by the EU as a key means of transport in the European inter-modal transport system. It reveals how the Commission aims to create favourable conditions for the further development of the sector and to encourage business to expand the use of this means of transport through the introduction of modern concepts, technologies and solutions, so as to adapt to new market needs and to inter-modal integration. As explained in the brochure RIS is important for the entire European inland waterway sector. Through RIS, waterways can connect to the latest developments in logistics, which offer reliable and predictable logistic supply chains. The further development of inland navigation, through the implementation of RIS, is of special interest to the inland waterway corridors given the recent enlargement of the EU, embracing Central and Eastern European countries, that will bring about a massive increase in freight transport demands, and hence a need to shift cargo from the heavily loaded road network onto the waterways. Behind the policy statements, European research, especially within the European Commission's Framework Research Programmes, has contributed significantly to the development and deployment of new RIS technologies, as this publication shows. These research, demonstration and implementation activities have helped, at the levels of technology, organisation and policy, to clear the obstacles to effective realisation of pan-European RIS, a central aim of the expected important policy document, the Harmonised River Information Services (RIS) on Inland Waterways in the Community' Directive. Looking ahead, this proposed Directive paves the way towards the future framework of pan-European network for inland waterways. However, as the publication points out, RIS development and implementation require the continued application of research, to update the concepts/technologies, to explore potential applications, and to solve emerging problems. The 24-page brochure can be downloaded in PDF format from the Transport Research Knowledge Centre web site: EXTR@Web,EXTR@Web (EXploitation of TRansport Research via the Web) is an accompanying measure project within the European Commission's Fifth Framework Programme (FP5), funded by the EC's Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN). EXTR@Web follows on from the EXTRA project, which provided information on transport research projects within the European Commission's Fourth Framework Programme (FP4). The project aims to collect, structure, analyse and disseminate transport research results, covering not only EC-supported programmes and projects but also nationally financed research in the European Research Area (ERA), 30 European countries in total. It is a four-year project (running from September 2002 to August 2006) led by a European consortium of 8 partners headed by GOPA-Cartermill (BE). In addition to the partners, the project includes a network of 16 geographic sub-contractors, covering countries not covered by the main partners (to enable full ERA-wide coverage). What is the European Research Area? The European Research Area (ERA) was launched at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000 and has rapidly become the central pillar of EU activities in the field of research, and the reference framework for European research policy issues. ERA objectives include improved coordination of national research initiatives between member countries, establishing genuine co-ordination of national research policies in order to create a European research policy, and creating an internal market in research'. ERA comprises all EU member states, Accession countries and other associated states (e.g. Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, etc). Contact information At DG TREN: Mr Jose Anselmo at e-mail: Project co-ordinator: Gaby Jauernig at e-mail: Enquiries desk at e-mail: