TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH AS A COMPETITIVE EDGE FOR GREEK TOURISM AND SMALL AND MEDIUM BUSINESSES
Exceptionally interesting and thought-provoking results and proposals were the outcome of the 8th International Congress on Transportation Research (ICTR), which has been successfully completed. The spotlight theme of ICTR 2017 was “The Future of Transportation: A Vision for 2030”. The Congress was co-organized by the Hellenic Institute of Transportation Engineers (HITE) (www.ses.gr) and the Hellenic Institute of Transport (HIT/CERTH) (www.hit.certh.gr) at CERTH Congress Centre in Thermi, Thessaloniki, under the auspices of the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos, with the active support of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation and the Municipality of Thessaloniki, under the umbrella of major European Research Networks: ECTRI, ERTICO, EURNEX, FEHRL, HUMANIST and WEGEMT.
The Congress has been characterized by high attendance, presence of remarkable people and exceptional statements.
The car of “tomorrow” – The hydroplanes – The intermodal transport – The electric ship
- First of all, the car of tomorrow will be electric, autonomous and shared (to a large extent); nevertheless the integration rate of this development depends on the combined, simultaneous development in all the three fields. In particular, in case of a “separate” development of the electric or of the autonomous car, the expected “integration time” will be exceeded by 10 years, in comparison with the case of a combined and simultaneous development, given that the one technology “supports” the other.
- In the field of air transport, a strong interest has been demonstrated in using hydroplanes, especially for the connection between Athens and other popular destinations. However, a relevant study carried out by the University of Crete, reveals that there are no available data on the economic sustainability of such a connection concerning the islands of the so-called “non-profit line”, while concerning the connection between Athens and Crete, the citizens are allegedly willing to pay up to 75 € for a hydroplane travel.
- The presentation of the advantages of intermodal transport between road and rail sectors, which is expected to reduce the fuel consumption and the travel cost of freight transport by 40%, attracted major interest.
Reference was also made to the electric and autonomous ship, the relevant pilot programme in Norway and the new horizons opened up towards the reduction in transport cost and the minimization of pollution.
Transportation research as a development factor for the Greek economy
Mr. G. Giannopoulos, emeritus Professor at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and member of the Academy of Athens, emphasized in his statement that CERTH is ranked first at a national level, as regards the attraction of research projects and E.U. capital funds. However, as part of the state budget, only 0.6% of GDP is allocated to the research sector, compared to 1.6% on average in other European countries, while private funding of research is characterized by a decreasing trend (10% of the total in 2016) as well.
Despite the fact that the Greek research community is constantly ranked among the top 12 in E.E. as regards transportation research, the meagre budget allocated to this field of research is inadequate, although – as highlighted at the Congress – transport sector constitutes one of the most important sectors of Greek economy due to the particular morphological characteristics, but due to tourism as well.
“The promotion of transportation research, especially in the sectors having been highlighted at the Congress, such as the connection of the so-called “non-profit line”, the hydroplane ports, the electric ships, the intermodal transport and the electromobility of vehicles, confer competitive advantages on Greek tourism and on Greek export-oriented small and medium businesses”, emphasized the Director of CERTH/HIT, Dr. Evangelos Bekiaris.
The revolution in the transport of tomorrow will change the working landscape.
A special meaning had the underlining of the emerging changes in the employment sector, in case of electric, autonomous and shared vehicles, drones and electric ships predominance. In particular, “the necessity of vocational guidance and refresher training for important professional groups (lorry and bus drivers, postman and courier services etc)” was pointed out.