The German Centre for Rail Traffic Research elaborates the rail sector’s central issues as defined in the Federal Research Programme for Rail Transport and provides solutions for them.
Governmental research funding plays an essential part in the freedom of science and research as stated in article 5, paragraph 3 of the German constitution. The German Federal Constitutional Court defines research as being an intellectual activity that pursues the goal to gain new insights in a methodical, systematic, and verifiable way. Scientific work is a precondition for governmental research funding. Within their constitutional responsibilities, the German Government and the German federal states support this research.
The central budgetary element for implementing governmental support measures in the field of research are benefits within the meaning of the German Federal Budget Code (BHO). 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. Full financing is granted only as an exception, for example if the economic interest of the applicant towards the federal interest represents only a subordinate motive.
This distinguishes research funding from pure business development. Economically oriented companies are focused on commercially promising projects. Therefore, governmental funding has the purpose to close the emerging gap. Furthermore, if the commercial benefit of research is overemphasized, the scientific claim can be impaired. As a result, governmental research funding always has to keep an eye on the requirements as stated in constitutional law.
Supporting research and technological development is intended to launch and accelerate necessary innovation processes in the field of rail transport. Parallel to in-house research of the German Centre for Rail Traffic Research, multiple funding instruments that can be complementary and if needed be used in parallel come into effect for accomplishing the tasks:
In the future, migration of the research results into practice is another key issue of the research programme. Strategies are to be framed and concepts have to be developed to support the usage of innovative products. For example, changes of the legal and secondary regulations or incentive systems are appropriate measures to be considered..