Understanding the relationship between Railway capacity and performance

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Institute for Transport Studies


Over recent years, the GB passenger rail network has seen unprecedented growth in patronage, with passenger kilometres doubling over a 20-year period. This pattern of growth is expected to continue into the future, driven by population growth, increasing road congestion and the impact of major investments in both rolling stock and infrastructure. More widely the European Commission has set challenging targets for growth of both passenger and freight; and envisages enhanced competition as one means of both increasing quality (and in turn demand), whilst also improving efficiency.

Against this background, a key - and inter-connected - challenge facing the GB rail industry is to manage increasing demand (encompassing both passenger and freight) whilst also maintaining and enhancing performance (encompassing both punctuality and cancellations). Maintaining an ever-busier network in good condition, simultaneously driving reduced costs through efficiency gains, whilst also managing upgrades to capacity, is a major challenge facing the industry.

In response to this challenge, the railway in GB is undergoing an unprecedented level of investment, in terms of both the day-to-day renewal of the railway network, as well as new schemes designed to enhance capacity and improve services, for example through platform lengthening, signaling and train control solutions, electrification, new train fleets and new railway lines.

This context provokes the overall aim of the proposed PhD research: to use innovative methods and datasets to investigate the trade-offs facing a growing railway in respect of costs, capacity improvements and performance. Importantly the research will incorporate a user (passenger; freight) perspective at its heart, whilst looking at the overall societal costs and benefits (including firms and government). Ultimately the research aims to deliver impact through addressing the question of how the GB rail network can deliver improvements to the quantity and quality of services, at minimum cost, balancing both the short and long term. The research of course has generalizable implications for other railways internationally.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/T517562/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2024
2257213 Studentship EP/T517562/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Kacper Rossa