Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

To develop technologies, systems, innovative concepts and strategies to improve intermodal transport operations at the European level.


The task force on transport intermodality is one of several established on the initiative of Commissioners Cresson (Research, education and training), Bangemann (Industry, telecommunications and information technologies) and Kinnock (Transport) for the purpose of developing priorities for research projects of common industrial interest. The task forces are focused on clearly defined areas and are aimed at, firstly, identifying, and then coordinating, the research efforts being made in each area (at both private and public level) in the individual Member States and within the framework of relevant European Union programmes, particularly research carried out under the Fourth RTD Framework Programme.

The rationale behind the task forces is to redress the current situation where only 13% of public research budgets are allocated to research projects involving European cooperation, as opposed to 87% for strictly national research. Greater coordination between the Member States' research activities is necessary to reduce expensive and wasteful duplication of effort and will, ultimately, improve Europe's industrial competitiveness in the global economy. The first task forces were set up in early 1995 and cover six areas: multimedia educational software; the car of the future; the new generation of aeroplanes; vaccines and virus-based diseases; the train of the future; and transport intermodality. The list is open-ended and new task forces may be established in the future. These may cover such issues as clean technologies, information society applications, construction materials, the maritime industry, etc.

Transport intermodality refers to all the systems, apparatus and technologies necessary for integrating transport by road, rail, air and sea so as to ensure the optimal transfer of goods and passengers from one mode of transport to another. The establishment of transport intermodality at the European level, so as to ensure the optimal circulation of goods and passengers from one end of Europe to the other, is of paramount importance to the efficient functioning of the internal market. This necessitates the interconnection of existing networks and coordinated developments in standardization, telecommunications, telematics and research in a wide-range of areas.

Whilst initiatives exist at national level to promote transport intermodality, there is no European intermodal industry nor any intermodal organization at European level. To redress this, the task force on transport intermodality is to work towards the development of technologies, systems, innovative concepts and strategies to improve intermodal transport operations. It is also to consider problems in changing from one mode of transport to another at airports, ports, terminals and stations, as well as other aspects of intermodal systems such as the transfer of technologies and computer-aided systems. Thus, the task force's action plan is to cover questions linked to infrastructure and networks, standardization, harmonization and regulation, environmental concerns and legal and institutional issues.

After consultation with representatives from industry, users and interest groups and organizations, the task force will identify needs and priorities and then prepare an inventory of research and technological development, innovatory and demonstration actions to be undertaken at the European level. Particular attention is to be paid to technological bottlenecks in each mode of transport and the best means of ensuring interconnection and interoperability.


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As a first step, the task forces are responsible for assessing the situation in their specific domain, preparing an inventory of actual research efforts and defining priorities for research following intensive consultations with industry and users. On the basis of this analysis, a scheme for combining priority projects with the relevant specific programmes under the Fourth Framework Programme will be drawn up.

At present, the task forces do not, themselves, manage or fund projects; they will, nonetheless, be able to influence the content of the remaining calls for proposals under the Fourth Framework Programme and the structure and content of the Fifth Framework Programme.

Eventually, the task forces could make use of various provisions contained in the R&D title of the Treaty on European Union: Article 130k which authorizes the establishment of supplementary R&D programmes involving the participation of certain Member States only, Article 130l which provides for Community participation in R&D programmes undertaken by several Member States or Article 130n which permits the Community to establish joint undertakings for research purposes.


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