FEHRL has developed a longer term Vision of both the future of roads and the research needed to support their development and operations. This specific Vision entitled Road Transport in Europe 2025 was prepared by a FEHRL Working Group under the leadership of TRL.
Coupled with this Vision, FEHRL's Strategic European Road Research Programme (SERRP) sets out a research programme to satisfy the shared requirements of the many stakeholders involved in helping to refine the process. In 2011, FEHRL defined the fifth version of the SERRP programme which detailed the activities for 2011-2016. The two core elements of SERRP V were based on FEHRL's flagship Forever Open Road (FOR) programme and the strengthening of FEHRL’s programming function. SERRP V can be downloaded here in English and in German.
Emerging then as FEHRL's flagship activity, FOR focused on an ambitious blend of national and international projects, which are themselves focused on breakthrough technologies in transport infrastructure. To support Forever Open Road (FOR), SERRP V also strengthened its programming activities to better pool funding and resources between the public and private sectors, and at European and international levels.
During 2016, FEHRL worked on developing the next SERRP, following the expiry of SERRP V. There were a few major changes with this iteration; firstly, giving the rapid pace of development in vehicle automation, this document covers a three-year timeframe, rather than five years as previously. When FEHRL placed FOR at the centre of the last SERRP, it did not imagine that driverless vehicles would have become a reality with major trials in Europe, such as the driverless truck trial undertaken in April 2016.
The second major change for the document was that whilst this document focuses heavily on challenges and opportunities related to FOR, its remit is broader both in modes to cover synchro-modality and the FORx4 concept, and in scope, to cover aspects such as governance, procurement and health and safety.
There are seven key areas covered;
- Governance for Implementation which impacts the potential to implement innovation;
- Health and Safety to sit at the centre of all other areas;
- Cross and Multi Modal integration, recognising the road network as part of wider transport network;
- Maintenance and upgrading of ageing infrastructure covering technologies to keep our infrastructure safe and adapting for future transport scenarios;
- Digitalisation covering adaptation of infrastructure to vehicle automation and smart systems;
- Carbon and Environment, seeking to reduce the carbon intensity of our infrastructure as well as reducing noise and air pollution; and
- Security and Resilience, covering short term challenges in natural and man-made hazards and long term adaptation to longer term climate change.
Finally, this latest version of SERRP covers implementation which had not been covered in previous versions, recognising that the key to improving Europe’s transport infrastructure is taking research through to implementation. This also ties in with a change of focus in the FOR programme, which initially focussed on research priorities and is now moving towards demonstration and deployment. Download this document here.