Green light for transport research centre

A research centre focusing on transport policy issues is being launched with £7.75m of public funding.

The UK Transport Research Centre (UKTRC) will be based at Imperial College London as well as University College London and the University of Leeds, and will draw on scientific expertise from across the country.

Long and short-term research will address key questions likely to face transport in the next decade and beyond, including economic competitiveness, the environment, mobility and accessibility, as well as technology and social impact.

Transport Minister Andrew Adonis announced the initiative during a visit to Imperial College, saying: "We are committed to delivering a first class sustainable transport system in this country - but to do this we need a first class evidence base. The research coming out of this new centre will be instrumental in ensuring Britain is at the forefront of new sustainable transport developments."

The centre will be led by Professor Peter Jones, seconded from University College London, together with four executive directors.

Research will include the impact of government investment in transport infrastructure and its effects on the labour market and the economy. Other projects will look at ways to improve governance and decision making in the transport system and predict how technological advances in different sectors might affect future transport demand.

The UKTRC will be funded by the Department for Transport, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Scottish government (DfT £5.0m, ESRC £2.5m and the Scottish Government £0.25m).

The ESRC grant holder is Professor John Polak, director of Imperial's Centre for Transport Studies, and the grant will be administered through Imperial College London.

Prof Polak commented: "The UKTRC will formalise the already strong relationship we have with our colleagues at Leeds and UCL, and more widely throughout the transport research community. It will also provide new funds, an administrative infrastructure, and an academic focal point for transport research in this country."

One of the principal objectives of the UKTRC is to enhance multidisciplinary working between transport researchers and social scientists to generate new evidence and insights into key transport problems.

One of its first projects will involve researchers from Imperial and the London School of Economics investigating the long-term effects of major transport projects on the development of London, the impact they have on the city’s economy, the labour market and their success with easing commuter congestion. The research outcomes will be used to guide future investment in major transport infrastructure projects.

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