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Dr John Armstrong BE, MSc, EngD, CEng MICE, MIRO, MCIHT

Senior Research Fellow

Dr John Armstrong's photo

Dr John Armstrong is a Senior Research Fellow within Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

John is a transport engineer and planner with over twenty years' experience in transport-related matters, primarily in railway operations planning and analysis. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southampton’s Transportation Research Group (TRG). John has 10 years of experience in highway and other civil engineering construction work, and over 20 years in the assessment, planning and design of transport systems and facilities, working in consultancy and academia. This includes the economic assessment of highway schemes, public transport route planning, and railway capacity and performance analysis. He completed an Arup-sponsored Engineering Doctorate (EngD) at TRG in 2005, based on the simulation of railway operations and performance and the management of disruptive incidents.

Having been a Visiting Research Fellow since completing his EngD, John formally joined TRG as a part-time Senior Research Fellow in 2010 (while continuing in a part-time role at Arup), to work on the OCCASION and subsequent DITTO (Developing Integrated Tools To Optimise) Rail Systems projects, in which he developed methods and tools to assess the capacity utilisation and performance of railway links and nodes. These were subsequently applied to the national network in collaboration with Arup, for the recalibration of Network Rail’s Capacity Charge. More recently, John has investigated the relationships between the planned railway timetable and the resulting punctuality, to develop methods for improving timetable quality.

John also has wider interests in railways, and has published work on their future prospects. This was used with Arup to develop an Operational Philosophy for Britain’s railways. Rail has a significant role to play in mitigating climate change, but is also vulnerable to its effects, notably sea level rise, increased rainfall intensity and flooding, and needs to adapt to these, while considering the associated economic costs and benefits; John also works in this area.


BE, Civil Engineering, National University of Ireland, Galway, 1986

MSc, Urban and Regional Transport, University of Wales, Cardiff, 1997

EngD, Transport Knowledge and Systems Engineering, University of Southampton, 2005


Senior Research Fellow, University of Southampton, 2010 –

Transport Engineer and Planner, CH2M Hill/Jacobs, 2018 – 2019

Transport Engineer and Planner, Arup, 1997 – 2017

Civil Engineering Laboratory Technician, CSIRO-DBCE, 1991 - 1992

Site Engineer and Engineering Surveyor, 1987 – 1991, 1992 - 1997



Research group

Transportation Group

Affiliate research group

ACHILLES project

Research project(s)

Rail Capacity and Demand

Research work in rail capacity at Southampton was initiated with the OCCASION project (2010-2012), followed-up with a Knowledge Transfer Secondment with Arup (2013-14) and continues with the DITTO project (2014-2017). Research work on rail demand forecasting at Southampton was initiated with Rail Research UK (2003-2010) and has continued with a series of grants, contracts and consultancy studies.


OCCASION was funded by the RSSB, EPSRC and DfT and had objectives to identify and investigate innovative methods of increasing the capacity of nodes (i.e. junctions and stations) on the railway network, without substantial investment in additional infrastructure. To this end, a state-of-the-art review of recent and on-going work in this area was conducted, and tools were developed to (i) assess existing and predicted levels of capacity utilisation at nodes, thus filling a gap in the current assessment ‘toolbox’, and (ii) investigate improved options for re-routeing and re-scheduling trains, with a view to reducing capacity utilisation levels and making more use of the capacity potentially available, including consideration of the interactions between timetable changes at adjacent nodes. Using a case study of Peterborough and the East Coast Main Line, these tools provided solutions to deliver reduced levels of capacity utilisation, and thus increases in capacity and/or service reliability. Incremental changes to existing railway technologies (e.g. improved points) and operating practice (e.g. relaxations of the Timetable Planning Rules) were investigated, as were concepts from other modes (e.g. road and air transport) and sectors (e.g. production scheduling). The capacity utilisation analysis tools have since been used in collaboration with Arup in the Capacity Charge Recalibration for Network Rail.

PhD Supervision

Co-supervision and interim assessment of some PhD candidates

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Book Chapter


CENV3065 (teaching the capacity, timetabling and traffic management elements of the module)


Dr John Armstrong
Engineering, University of Southampton, Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus, Burgess Road, Southampton, SO16 7QF

Room Number : 176/4007

Facsimile: (023) 8059 3152

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