Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the Netherlands. And, especially, welcome to the LEF future centre here at Rijkswaterstaat.
As you can see, this is no ordinary venue for a conference. Its layout, design and setting all invite dialogue, conversation and encounter. This centre was designed for breakthroughs – to achieve results. And that’s what we’re going to do in the next two days.
You’re here because European cooperation is important to you. Because you know that transport doesn’t stop at borders. And because you understand the need to work together on the transport and infrastructure of the future.
We need each other to keep traffic moving. To make it efficient and sustainable. And to take the right measures for the safety of road users.
So the theme of this conference, 'Traffic management in a changing world; Digitalization, Multimodality, Smart Infrastructures', will be high on everyone’s agenda.
I don’t know where you travelled from this morning, but I know for certain that you didn’t have the road to yourself. It’s the same everywhere, not only in the Netherlands. Economies are booming, and that’s reflected by the traffic. It’s busy. And it’s going to get a lot busier.
So we face a common challenge: to keep our roads safe and traffic flowing, while reducing carbon emissions. This is no easy undertaking, and interests sometimes conflict. But it’s important that we tackle them together. Using new technologies that will both enable and compel us to reshape our infrastructure and traffic management.
Last October we practiced a large scale Truck Platoon with 250 trucks during the Experience Week Connected Transport, using existing technology such as ACC, smart traffic lights, in-car warning systems. The results are promising. A 15% better traffic flow, 10% less fuel, due to a more steady driving style. This pilot learned us more about safer and more convenient truck journeys.
Today’s ‘smart mobility’ technology forms the basis for tomorrow’s solutions. The aim is clear: a safe, smart and sustainable transport system.
So we’re improving and expanding services and products that are already available. Like navigation systems that alert us to dangerous situations on the road ahead. Like vehicles equipped with automatic braking systems. And traffic lights that communicate with in-car devices. In the short term, safe use of these products and services can enhance road safety, accessibility and sustainability. And there’s still plenty of scope for more innovation and fine-tuning.
We’re seeing a new generation of smart vehicles starting to appear on the road. Semi-autonomous cars, truck platoons. Step by step, we need to open the road network to them. We’re now entering a period when these vehicles will share the road with conventional vehicles. To organise the transition we – industry and governments across Europe – need to work together. We’re ready to scale up pilots and trials. And this where we need your knowledge and your solutions. The sooner the better!
Road authorities will play a different but equally important role. Traffic management in particular will need to change. The core tasks will remain capacity management by dealing with incidents and roadworks and providing winter services. Essential services that save lives. The focus will be on exchanging data, and closer cooperation between public and private service providers. To this end, Rijkswaterstaat uses big data analysis to optimise the positioning of road inspectors and recovery companies, so that incidents can be dealt with as fast as possible.
Communication technology will also be key to traffic management. Digital representations of the road and the traffic situation supply new data. Real-time information on congestion, speed limits, scheduled road works and availability of parking spaces for trucks will help road users to plan a smooth journey. This will call for close cooperation between road operators, the automotive industry and service providers. Like we see in the Talking Traffic and Socrates 2.0 projects.
Road authorities are improving digital representations of infrastructure and the situation on it. In their turn, OEMs should share safety related traffic information. That’s why the Netherlands is supporting the efforts of the European-wide public-private Data Task Force.
By 2030, the majority of vehicles and road users will be connected in one way or another. Our real-time common operational picture will be more accurate and more detailed. Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems will be essential if truck platoons and semi-autonomous vehicles are to integrate smoothly into existing traffic flows.
All of these developments require the European hybrid communication strategy. While the industry primarliy is to set the standard, the Netherlands will currently invest in roll-out solutions that can contribute on the short term.
My priorities are effectiveness, technological neutrality, practical applications and collaboration – across borders, brands and systems. I’ll also ensure that data is used with due care. Privacy and data security are key conditions.
My aim is a safe, smart and sustainable mobility system. In the Netherlands. And across Europe. I want us to experience the benefits of innovation as soon as we can. In particular, the benefits to vulnerable road users.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Mobility is not simple arithmetic, or the sum of several modalities. It’s a complex combination of opportunities, each supporting the other. We’re looking for the connections between these opportunities, with customised answers to transport demand. The EU’s 9 core network corridors show current and future bottlenecks. Using the multimodality approach we can take early action to guarantee smooth traffic flow, now and in the future.
That’s why this conference is so important.
It’s promising to see you working here today as a single community. A great example of cooperation at European level. It’s vital that we reach out across national borders. Because work processes, data availability and enabling conditions like cybersecurity need to be harmonised at European level. The European Commission is doing important work – through legislation and funding.
The EIP Forum is a major platform for sharing ideas, reaching agreement and taking action. Rijkswaterstaat recently compiled a Roadmap for Traffic Management. It’s an analysis of innovative traffic management opportunities for the near and distant future.
We’ re happy to share it with you. And we look forward to your feedback.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It’s time to get to work. Your goals for the days ahead are to move forward; to help and learn from each other; and to work together on the traffic management of the future.
I look forward to hearing the results you achieve. Let’s make the future of traffic management a European reality!
I wish you all a successful conference.