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Sustainable Mobility

The concept of sustainable mobility has been the subject of research and debate for many years, and is an overarching objective of the EU’s 1998-2004 Action Programme for Transport.  Its attainment will require not only dramatic improvements in technology but also radical changes in the way in which transport services are delivered, new infrastructure, new operational practices, new business models and also changes in behaviour and expectations of service users.

The EU has recognized the importance of mobility to social and economic development and also the integration and realization of the European Community. It has, however also recognized the significant environmental impact of transport and accordingly proposals within the Maastricht Treaty aim to develop an integrated transport system for the European continent and a common transport policy that incorporates the following principles:

  • acceptance of the philosophy of a basic freedom to travel;
  • the continuing growth of the transport industry;
  • the need for a comprehensive transport network or system as a key to the development of the single market and sustainable mobility;
  • the key role that aviation would play in such a system; but also,
  • the environmental impact of different modes of transport; and
  • the need to make use of the appropriate mode for the task required.

UK Government policy (DETR, 1998). also envisages sustainable mobility requiring the development of an integrated transport network exploiting and maximising the capacity and use of existing infrastructure and enabling people to access public transport as close to home as possible The recent decision by the incoming Coalition Government to refuse to consider a third runway at Heathrow but to press ahead with High Speed 1 is a recognition of the complementary role played by air transport and high speed trains.

Having developed a suitable transport infrastructure, however it is then necessary to develop the services and systems which :

  • minimise the need for people to use the private car to access aviation;
  • make travel and carriage of goods by the appropriate mode of public transport the most attractive option; and
  • educate consumers of the environmental consequences of transport and ways in which they change their behavior to encourage sustainable development.

Research Studies

Research at CATE has focused on a wide spectrum of topics related to the above agenda including:

  • Air / Rail Inter-modal Transfer (2009-2012) A study into the lifecycle environmental costs of meeting demand for medium/long distance transport within the UK and Ireland by air and rail.
  • The Role of Air Ships as a means of Freight Transport within an Integrated Transport System (2003 – 2005) An investigation into the feasibility and environmental benefits (principally CO2 emissions) of transferring air freight onto air ships.
  • Sustainability Indicators for Airport Intermodal Transport Hubs: a generic strategic design support (1999 – 2002) This work developed a proof of concept decision support tool for optimizing airport operational and environmental capacity. EPSRC grant reference GR/M60200.
  • Airline passenger knowledge of, and attitudes towards aviation and climate change (2006-2008) including willingness to take action to reduce their CO2 emissions, for example by transferring to high speed trains.