The NRA is a member of the Conference of European Road Directors (CEDR), an organisation which brings together the road directors of 25 European countries. The aim of CEDR is to contribute to future developments of road engineering as part of an integrated transport system under the social, economical and environmental aspects of sustainability and to promote co-operation between the national road administrations. The website www.cedr.fr contains a full description of the structure and activities of CEDR
CEDR recognises the importance of research in the development of sustainable transport and has established a Technical Group (TG) to monitor European research activities and to advise the CEDR Board on issues relating to research. TG Research responsibilities include dissemination of research results as well as influencing EU Research Programmes that support CEDR members in current and future situations. The NRA Research Manager is an active member of TG Research and the various initiatives that the group initiates.
ERA-NET ROAD (ENR) is one of a number of European Research Arenas (ERAs), the purpose of which is to encourage better co-operation of research and trans-national co-ordination across Europe.
ENR membership includes the road authorities of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, with CEDR as an Associate Partner. The main objective of ERA-NET ROAD is to achieve trans-national research programmes which are strategically planned and which are financed through the pooling of national research funds. The first of these joint research programmes, “Getting to grips with Climate Change”, was developed and launched in May 2008 and a second programme “Safety at the heart of road design” was initiated in 2009. A third programme on asset management will start in 2010 and other possible research programmes are being developed by the ERA-NET ROAD team. The website www.eranetroad.org contains more details of the objectives and activities of ERA-NET ROAD.
The Forum of European National Highway Research Laboratories (FEHRL) is an association of national institutes involved in transport and road engineering research.
It was formed in 1989 and has a permanent Secretariat based in Brussels. It is governed by a General Assembly made up of the Directors of each of the national institutes. The purpose of FEHRL is to encourage collaborative research between European laboratories and institutes in the field of highway infrastructure, leading to the provision of relevant knowledge and advice to governments, the European Commission, the road industry and road users. More details of its activities can be found on its website www.fehrl.org. As Ireland does not have a national research institute, the NRA was invited to become a member of FEHRL so that the interests of Ireland were represented. This is appropriate as the NRA now has a formal research strategy and it is important that its research programme takes on board what is happening internationally. To encourage wider Irish involvement in EU-funded projects, an Irish FEHRL Group has been proposed. This currently includes UCD and TCD, as these universities have historically had a significant involvement in EU projects. This Group can be expanded to include other organisations as required.
Transport Research Arena (TRA)
Transport Research Arena (TRA) is a forum to bring together the various stakeholders with an interest in transport research, including transport authorities, consultants, contractors, car manufacturers, fuel producers and researchers. TRA provides an opportunity for all parties involved to meet and to present, exchange and disseminate the results obtained in research and development and is strongly supported by CEDR, ERTRAC and European Commission.
The TRA theme is “greener, smarter and safer”. The first TRA conference was held in Goteborg in June 2006 with the second in Ljubljana in April 2008. The third TRA conference will take place in Brussels in June 2010. The National Roads Authority Ireland is an active participant in TRA. See website www.traconference.eu.
The National Roads Authority is also involved, directly or through CEDR, with other research bodies including:
• ERTRAC: European Road Transport Research Advisory Council
• ECTP: European Construction Technology Platform
• JTRC: ECMT/OECD’s Joint Transport Research Centre
• FERSI: Forum of European Road Safety Research Institutes
• ECTRI: European Conference of Transport Research Institutes
• BOF: Bridge Owners Forum
The list of roads related research topics being undertaken across Europe by these and other EU organisations is very extensive. It is in the NRA’s interest, as well as those of the country as a whole, to maintain contact with these groups: this ensures that the Irish perspective is considered in the various research initiatives and they the NRA has the tools to build and operate the road network safely and reliably.