The German Centre for Rail Traffic Research elaborates the rail sector’s central issues as defined in a Federal Research Programme for Rail Transport and provides solutions for them. Supporting research and technological development is intended to launch and accelerate necessary innovation processes in the field of rail transport. Parallel to inhouse research of the German Centre for Rail Traffic Research, two further funding instruments that can be complementary and if needed be used in parallel come into effect for accomplishing the tasks:
Contractual research is the main field of departmental research. In a problemoriented, practical, and interdisciplinary way, it approaches specific questions in which the Federal Government holds a predefined interest. This covers the German Government’s wide range of tasks in the field of rail transport. Departmental research supports preparing or implementing political decisions and perceiving public tasks. It creates independent specialized knowledge at the interface of science, industry, the state, and politics which is available to the entire railway sector. In general, research and development activities are achieved by placing research contracts with external companies and research institutions.
Another central element in the field of research are federal grants. The interest for support in the specific measure has to be considerable. Usually, the state’s interest is described in the form of funding programmes. With the help of these third-party funds, ideas and new technologies are developed in clearly defined research programmes. The funding is aimed at companies, research institutions and universities working together in consortia. The results should be application-oriented and market-oriented. The German Centre for Rail Traffic Research cooperates here with universities and industry in several research projects.
The migration of the research results into practice is another key issue of the research programme. Strategies for science communication are to be framed and concepts have to be developed to support the usage of innovative products. For example, initiatives for change of the legal and secondary regulations or incentive systems are appropriate measures to be considered.