Funding support for innovative research in the European Union


2013 80th ANNIVERSARY - In 2013 the TRL celebrated its 80th birthday.

The RRL (Road Research Laboratory), was created when the Ministry of Transport's Experimental Station, formed in 1930 at Harmondsworth, near Heathrow, southern England, was transferred to the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR). Much of its work then concentrated on road materials and methods of construction.




TRLs desire to create the future of transport is under-pinned by their vision to be a world leader in evidence-based transport solutions that are efficient, accessible, clean and safe. This is rooted in the knowledge base they create; the flexibility and dynamism of approach to problems; incisiveness in problem solving and the making of decisions. Their intellect thrives on continuous learning and skills development; the integrity they have in all that they do and this their credibility. All of these core values come together to inspire confidence in customers and partners they are able to meet their requirements in every way.




Dr Alan Stevens is the Chief Research Scientist and Research Director, Transportation at TRL where he has been working on the application of new technology to transport for 25 years. 

After training as a physicist and research on medical imaging, he worked as part of the team developing the first vehicle number-plate readers. At TRL his initial work on route guidance and mapping systems led to an interest in human factors and driver interaction.

He is an internationally recognised expert in “Human-Machine Interaction” (HMI) in the driving environment and was co-author of the authors of the “European Statement of Principles on HMI" through his work within the eSafety initiative, where he co-chairs of the HMI Working Group. He was also an active member of the responsible international standards committee regularly participating in meetings with European, US, Canadian and Japanese colleagues. 

He was recently appointed to the EU-US Working Group on Driver Distraction following the EU-US High Level Cooperation agreement and continues to be involved in the international IHRA (International Harmonized Research agenda) group and on the Management Committee of IBEC (International Benefit Evaluation and Costs) group and has a continuing research interest in techniques to assess the safety and benefit of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).

His consultancy activities focus on providing advice on policy and interoperability issues to Government, developing research programmes and carrying out specific technical and human factors studies in Intelligent Transportation Systems. In terms of academic activities, he participates in University teaching at MSc level, supervises PhD students and is Editor in Chief of an international peer-review journal of Intelligent Transport Systems.





1933 - TRL was originally established in 1933 by the UK Government as the Road Research Laboratory (RRL) under the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and later became the Transport and Road Research Laboratory (TRRL).


1938 - Richard Stradling, director, wrote that "the objective of all the research work at RRL [now TRL] is to accumulate that body of scientific knowledge which is an essential factor in the economical and efficient construction and maintenance of our roads. Practical application of the results must be the aim throughout." While TRL's remit today is far more wide-reaching, from the development of tools to assist engineers in the design of roads and junctions to increase capacity and ease congestion, ITS technologies that deliver traveller information and road user charging capabilities, to environmental performance and strategic assessment, sustainability and climate change, it continues to deliver evidence-based solutions to help its customers solve modern day transport issues.


1939 - The focus switched at the start of the second world war when RRL was allocated military research, and it became involved in work on the Dambusters' 'bouncing bomb', also contributing to the war effort. under William Glanville with research that aided the development of plastic armour and the Disney bomb.

1946 -  RRL's road safety division was formed at Langley Hall near Slough, west of London. Work included studies of accident data, traffic flow, junction design, street lighting, vehicle safety (initially lighting and braking) and pedestrian crossings.

Crossings at this time were marked using metal studs in the road surface and unlit Belisha beacons [named after UK Minister of Transport Leslie Hore-Belisha].

Model crossings were set up to investigate colour, texture, lighting and wetness. It was concluded that alternating 2ft (0.6m) wide black and white stripes laid parallel to the kerb (Zebra pattern) were most conspicuous. At night, no surface patterns showed up well unless lit by an overhead lamp. Experimental crossings were laid and it was found that compared to conventional markings, Zebra crossings were more visible to drivers and led to better observation of crossings by both pedestrians and drivers. 


1951 - In October of this year regulations required all uncontrolled pedestrian crossings to have Zebra markings and other road users to give precedence to pedestrians.

1955 - RRL's Colonial Research Section was formed, becoming the Tropical Section in 1959 and the Overseas Unit in 1972.

The work investigated the particular problems of transport in developing countries, initially concentrating on road materials and construction, but grew to include traffic engineering and road safety. Part of RRL's role was the dissemination of information through courses and publications such as the annual Tropical Roads Course which has been held in the UK and at various venues around world for over 30 years. Similarly, Overseas Road Note (ORN) series of guidance documents, introduced in 1981, can be found in the offices of thousands of transportation professionals around the world.

In the 1950s increased car ownership began to manifest itself with a rise in occupant facilities and injury. Analysis of hospital records and accident investigation data at this time revealed a high incidence of head and chest injuries (for example from unrestrained drivers hitting the steering wheel). Three-quarters of single vehicle impacts were to the front of the car.

1960 - >>> all available information on road design was drawn together to produce Road Note 29, A Guide to the Structural Design of Flexible and Rigid Pavements for New Roads.

Since then design guidance has been regularly updated: a fundamental re-look at the approach to pavement design is ongoing.

1961 - This finding led to RRL conducting its first full-scale frontal impact test, with cars impacting a 114tonne block at 60-70km/hr. Three years later, the work had clearly demonstrated the importance of wearing seat belts and the need to coordinate the design of the seat, seat belt, passenger compartment and crushable front of the car in order to minimise the deceleration experienced by the occupants.

1967 - The Crowthorne offices, also west of London, were opened, bringing staff together from Harmondsworth and Langley Hall.


1970 - In the 1970s, the TRRL moved from the Department of Trade and Industry to the Department of the Environment.

1972 - Another change of name recognised RRL's increased capability. Now the Transport and Road Research Laboratory (TRRL), work included studies of bridges, tunnels, road user behaviour, road pricing, public transport and the environmental impacts of vehicles.


1975 - At the TRRL, Frank Blackamore developed the mini-roundabout which was adopted nationally.

1992 - Twenty years later TRRL became an Executive Agency of the Department of Transport and its name changed to the more familiar Transport Research Laboratory. TRL competed for work from the Department and was able to bid for contracts from other organisations.

Throughout this time, RRL, TRRL, TRL has worked on developing better roads, looking at the issues of skid resistance, road materials, methods of construction, and measurement of road characteristics.

In the past, road characteristics were measured manually or by slow-moving machines. Now thanks to the development of laser and image collection equipment, more reliable information can be gathered in a more cost effective way using traffic speed survey vehicles such as HARRIS1 & 2 (surface deformation) and the Traffic Speed Deflectometer (structural strength).

1996 - TRL was privatised as a limited company, and the transformation was complete when TRL moved to Crowthorne House, its new purpose-build head office, with state-of-the-art research facilities. 


TRL Limited, trading as the Transport Research Laboratory, is a fully independent private company offering a transport consultancy and research service to the public and private sector. Originally established in 1933 by the UK Government as the Road Research Laboratory (RRL), it was privatised in 1996.


Morris 1000 being crash tested



TRL is based in Crowthorne, Berkshire, with additional offices in Scotland and Wales.

TRL's key areas of work include road, network and vehicle safety; traffic management; planning and control; investigations and risk management; transport infrastructure; and environmental assessment including work on climate change, noise and air pollution.

The extensive original site has been substantially scaled back, with many many of the original buildings disused, creating an opportunity for redevelopment. In 2012, Bracknell Council has identified the original site as a strategic area, suitable for a new mini-town of 1,000 homes.


To maintain its commercial independence and impartiality, TRL is owned by the Transport Research Foundation, a non-profit distributing foundation overseen by 80 sector members from the transport industry. TRL's profits are invested in its own research programmes, selected by the TRF to enhance knowledge in critical areas such as safety, environmental impact and sustainable development.




One day it might be possible to teleport people and goods from one location to another. Until then, 








Crowthorne House, Nine Mile Ride

Wokingham, Berkshire

RG40 3GA, United Kingdom


Tel: +44 (0) 1344 770297


About TRL

Our Vision and Strategy

Corporate Governance

Key Facts

Key Clients and Partners

Our History

Where to Find Us





Cycling and Walking


Defence and Security



Attitudes & Behaviour

Road & Rail Infrastructure

Asset Management


Intelligent Transport Systems

Transport Futures

Testing & Certification


News Hub

Transport News

Transport Events Diary

Video Newsroom

TRL Newsletter

Media Contacts

RSS Feeds



Bluebird designed 3.6MW service station for EVs


THE DEVONSHIRE PROJECT: Shown above is a CAD drawing of the Bluebird™ 3.6MW solar assisted service station containing 60 cartridges on a continuous charge cycle. It is estimated that five of these stations (18MW) could recharge (refuel) 5 cars a minute. Next time you visit your BP or Tesco fuel pump, count the number of cars leaving the station in a minute. You will find that an electric forecourt holds the potential to be quicker. During rush hour, 300 cars might be serviced in one hour, drawing on energy stored for an average 2 hour recharge cycle - 12 hours of which is off using off-peak electricity. During an eight hour day 2,400 cars might be serviced - with the equivalent battery charge cycle of one hour at peak times. Alternatively 600 cars might be serviced per day with an average 8 hour charge cycle. The same forecourt might be used to service fuel-cell cars powered by liquid hydrogen. One size fits all.


Increase the number of stations (or increase the number of modules per station to 2) to give 10 units at 5 stations, and the charging time may be increased even more to extend battery life. The same principle is applied to petrol service stations. The more the anticipated demand, the more pumps are installed and the bigger the underground storage tanks.






A Smart city is one that uses sustainable energy for transport, with the infrastructure to support such agenda planned as staged developments over a given timeframe. At present there is no such plan, study or agenda - simply because the Bluebird system is not yet part of government thinking. We know this because to date we have not been contacted to discuss the possibilities that such a system might eventually mean for the United Kingdom.









World Highways trl delivers its vision


Italy Ministry of Transport

Wikipedia Transport_Research_Laboratory

USA Department of Transport

ITS International Route One Publishing


EU funding schemes

Horizon 2020








This website is Copyright © 2014 Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd.   The names Bluebird™, Bluefish™, Blueplanet BE3™, Ecostar DC50™, and the blue bird and fish in flight logos are trademarks. The color blue is a protected element of the marks. All other trademarks are hereby acknowledged.


Flying blue fish Bluebird trademark legend, blue bird in flight logo