ECTRI’s primary focus is surface transport in all its manifestations. This is reflected in the involvement of ECTRI members in European Union research initiatives on roads, railways and shipping, including aspects such as energy, environment, economics, safety and intelligent communication systems.
ECTRI was founded in 2003. The DLR was among the initiators and founding members. In January 2007 the positions of ECTRI General Secretary and ECTRI Secretariat were transferred from the French INRETS to the DLR. The Institute of Transport Research has also been conferred the leadership of an ECTRI work group analyzing the ‘soft infrastructures' of its members and formulating suggestions for ECTRI-wide integration. A number of DLR institutes are also actively involved in working with other work groups.
ECTRI aims to influence the direction of European transport research in accordance with the agendas of its members. With its collaboration on the 6th and 7th framework program and other measures, such as financial assistance for technology transfers and network formation, ECTRI makes an important contribution to organized European research on surface transport. The hoped-for result is an integrated, multi-modal, safe, powerful, environmentally friendly and cost-effective European transport system. The long-term goal is to found a virtual European transport institute that collates the strengths and potential of its members and benefits from their experience and research infrastructure. ECTRI, as an independent scientific body, also provides policy advice.
Over and above its European activities, ECTRI engages itself for greater international cooperation and collaboration. Particularly relevant in this context is a Memorandum of Understanding signed together with the American Transportation Research Board (TRB), a National Research Council organization, in January 2006.