Basic research versus applied research would be the wrong question. Basic research embedded in applied research is a sustainable solution for the university and our society. Research is driven by insufficiency of present solutions. Some problems can be solved by advancing existing standards, some require basic research and most of them a combination of both. Optimising the overall system railway from planning and construction to operation, maintenance and assessment is the ambition of the Institute of Railway Engineering and Traffic Economy. Technically emphasis is put on planning and developing track components. This includes assessing innovations which support their implementation or even enables it in the first place. Due to the long service life of track, a serious economic discussion needs to include all life cycle costs. Examples are asphalt layers, under sleeper pads, heavy-duty-sleepers, and, in general, identifying possible applications of specific (innovative) components.
The effects of vehicles on track are analysed to develop demand-based track access charges on a cost by cause principle. Furthermore, the numerous interconnections between demand, schedule and infrastructure are addressed by developing concepts for future infrastructure investments based on predicted demands and future timetables.