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The University of Southampton
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Dr Simon Blainey BA (Hons), MSc, PhD, FRGS, MCIHT, FHEA, CMILT

Associate Professor in Transportation

Dr Simon Blainey's photo

Dr Simon Blainey is an Associate Professor in Transportation within Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.


I am an Associate Professor at the University's Transportation Research Group, with particular expertise in rail transport but with experience of work relating to all transport modes.  From an early age I have had a keen interest in all facets of transportation systems and their relationships with wider society and the physical environment.  Transport plays a crucial role in enabling and creating the complex linkages which allow our society to function, but also poses a threat to the continued existence of that society through the demands it makes on natural and human resources and the damage it causes to the environment.  Through my work at TRG I aim to make a contribution to the development of a transport network which is more sustainable, more efficient, and less costly to users, government and the environment.  This aim is central to both my research and my teaching, full details of which are provided on the relevant tabs below.

Research interests

My research interests are centred on understanding and modelling the interdependencies between transport and other human and natural systems.  I am a geographer by background and have made extensive use of geographical information systems and spatial modelling techniques in my research.  My work initially focused on rail transport, but I have subsequently carried out research relating to nearly all major transport modes.  My research aims ultimately to make a practical contribution to policy-making in the transport and climate domains, by creating outputs that will be of direct use to stakeholders, and I have extensive experience of collaborating with non-academic partners to achieve research impact.

I am currently leading a major FCDO-funded project on ‘Decision Support Systems for Resilient Strategic Transport Networks in Low Income Countries’ which aims to provide transport decision makers in LICs (and LMICs) with support tools which enable them to prioritise interventions that will deliver sustainable and resilient long-distance transport networks.  I am also a Co-I on UKCRIC Strand 3, the Data and Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI), which will enable unprecedented understanding of complex cities and infrastructures to inform planning, design and management. I am also co-leading work on whole life cost and carbon modelling for railway track systems (with Prof. John Preston) as part of the EPSRC-funded Track to the Future project, having previously worked as a researcher on the earlier Track 21 project.  I have recently been involved in research developing transport decarbonisation pathways for England’s Economic Heartland.  I previously acted as a Co-I on the EPSRC-funded Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC) MISTRAL project, and led the development of the national transport element of the ITRC's National Infrastructure Systems Model, which has being used by key stakeholders such as the National Infrastructure Commission. 

I have extensive experience in rail research, and recently led RSSB-funded work on predicting and mitigating small fluctuations in station dwell times.  I have established a reputation domestically and internationally as an expert in rail demand modelling and appraisal, providing peer review and guidance to government bodies in the UK and overseas.  I led a research project which delivered a semi-automated stakeholder focused tool for forecasting demand for new railway stations, hosted on DAFNI. I have also carried out rail demand forecasting projects for clients including the Association of Train Operating Companies, the Welsh Government, the Department for Transport and Transport for London, as well as EPSRC-funded research.  This research has covered a number of different topics, focusing particularly on making use of innovative techniques such as GIS and Geographically Weighted Regression to explain and forecast the use of rail networks.

I am also interested in researching the factors and barriers which may exclude some people from accessing rail services, and in the implications of changing working and living patterns for travel behaviour, transport networks and land use.

Research group

Transportation Group

Research project(s)

Track 21 - Railway Track for the 21st Century

Track to the Future


Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC)

An Integrated Appraisal Tool For Local Railway Stations

There is a common perception (even amongst some transport professionals) that the rail network is in a state of decline, but in fact nothing could be further from the truth. UK passenger rail use is currently at record levels and, despite the recent economic downturn, growth in rail travel seems likely to continue. This growth will be accentuated by the need to reduce carbon emissions to meet government targets, which will necessitate considerable mode shift from private to public transport. Expansion in capacity will be required to accommodate these additional rail passengers, and there are a large number of schemes proposed for new railway services, stations and lines. However, only limited funds are available to implement such schemes, and it is therefore important to ensure that this money goes to the projects which will deliver the greatest benefits to passengers in the most cost-effective way. In order to achieve this, a range of work has taken place at the University of Southampton Transportation Research Group to develop modelling and appraisal procedures for assessing the likely performance of schemes to improve rail services.

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.

An Automated Demand Forecasting Model For New Local Railway Stations

The key objective of this project is to develop a software tool capable of providing forecasts of the demand impacts of new railway stations sited at any location in Great Britain.

Improving Customer Experience While Ensuring Data Privacy (DICE)

UKCRIC Strand C: Data Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure

ITRC MISTRAL – Transport Research

Predicting and mitigating small fluctuations in station dwell times

Decision Support Systems for Resilient Strategic Transport Networks in Low Income Countries

This project will contribute to the High Volume Transport (HVT) research programme by developing and delivering what will be (to the best of our knowledge) the first multi-state transport infrastructure decision support system in a developing context.  The system will aim to support investment decisions and option selection for long distance strategic land transport projects by providing a fast and consistent methodology for comparing the advantages and disadvantages of different project options with respect to a range of sustainability indictors.  As well as covering infrastructure investments, the system will be sufficiently flexible to also allow assessment of changes to the management and operation of long-distance road and rail systems. The research is taking a regional approach, focusing on two Low Income Countries (Tanzania and Uganda) and two neighbouring Lower Middle Income Countries (Kenya and Zambia) in East Africa.  The project is led by the University of Southampton’s Transportation Research Group, in partnership with the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, and supported by a range of stakeholder partners in the case study region.

Programme Lead and Admissions Tutor, MSc Transportation Planning and Engineering

Industrial Placement Year Lead, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Member of International Editorial Board, Journal of Transport Geography

Governance Board Member, Data and Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure


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  • Mulley, C., Higginson, M., Blainey, S. P., Swallow, K., Hibbs, J., Axten, A., Hannay, R., McIntyre, C., Mills, A., Newman, A., Souter, I., Storey, R., & Yearsley, I. (Eds.) (Accepted/In press). Companion to road passenger transport history. Roads and Road Transport History Association.

Book Chapters

  • Blainey, S. (2018). Passenger rail structure and reform. In J. Cowie, & S. Ison (Eds.), Handbook of Transport Economics (pp. 17-30). Routledge.
  • Stanton, N., McIlroy, R. C., Harvey, C., Preston, J., Blainey, S., Hickford, A., & Ryan, B. (2017). Exploring the constraints of modal shift to rail transport. In N. A. Stanton, P. M. Salmon, G. H. Walker, & D. P. Jenkins (Eds.), Cognitive Work Analysis: Applications, Extensions and Future Directions (pp. 207-231). CRC Press.
  • Tran, M., Byers, E. A., Blainey, S. P., Baruah, P., Chaudry, M., Qadrdan, M., Eyre, N., & Jenkins, N. (2016). Quantifying interdependencies: the energy-transport and water-energy nexus. In J. W. Hall, M. Tran, A. J. Hickford, & R. J. Nicholls (Eds.), The Future of National Infrastructure: A System-of-Systems Approach (pp. 227-240). Cambridge University Press.
  • Blainey, S. P., & Preston, J. M. (2016). Transport Systems Assessment. In J. W. Hall, M. Tran, A. J. Hickford, & R. J. Nicholls (Eds.), The Future of National Infrastructure: a System-of-Systems Approach (pp. 88-113). Cambridge University Press.




I am programme lead for the postgraduate MSc Transportation Planning and Engineering course, and am also involved in teaching several modules on this course and others, specifically:

CENV 3065 Railway Engineering and Operations

This module provides comprehensive coverage of the main features of railway engineering and operations, including topics ranging from system planning through to the impacts of noise and vibration.  I am module lead and teach sessions on rail system planning, signalling systems, station and interchange design, light rail and high speed rail.

CENV 6001 Transport Planning: Practice

This module covers a range of practical techniques used by transport planners.  I am module lead and teach sessions on transport planning measures, planning for pedestrians and cyclists, and transport users and user engagement.

CENV6016 Transport Economics

This module provides students with an understanding of economic theory as applied to transport, including demand, supply and pricing theory.  It also considers economic appraisal and evaluation methods and their application in developing and developed countries, and the links between transport and the wider economy.  I lead sessions on cost benefit analysis and appraisal.

CENV6152 Project Economics and Management.

This module provides a systematic understanding of how civil and environmental engineering topics work in financial, economic, social and environmental terms. I lead sessions on cost benefit analysis and related techniques.

CENV6153 Transport Modelling

This module provides students with knowledge and experience of a range of transport modelling techniques at different scales.  I provide theoretical and practical teaching on the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in a transport context.

CENV6168 Transport Management and Safety

This model explores issues around the management of transport systems from a range of perspectives.  I lead a session on resilience engineering for transport systems.

CENV6169 Transport Planning: Policy and Governance

This module introduces students to a range of issues relating to transport planning, policy-making, and governance.  I am module lead, and teach sessions on the background to transport planning, the development of transport systems, the geography of transport systems and networks, transport trends, transport policy around the world, and strategic transport planning.

CENV6170 Logistics Systems Operations

This module provides a comprehensive overview of the main features of logistic system operations.  I lead a session on rail freight systems.

I am involved in supervising both undergraduate and postgraduate students on research projects relating to transport policy and planning, transport modelling, transport and land use, and rail transport.  I have supervised over 65 students in the past, with example topics including:

  • Accessibility and transport deprivation in Greater London
  • Assessing the financial accessibility of the GB rail network
  • Assessing the quality of Southampton's cycle network
  • Counterfactual study of railway station closures
  • Creating multi-attribute accessibility indices
  • Evaluating the level of service provision on the Athens Metro
  • Evaluating the potential for transit-oriented developments in Hampshire
  • Factors influencing local bus usage in UK provincial cities
  • Framework for transport scenario development in the UK
  • Future transport scenarios for the UK
  • Impacts of changing working patterns on travel patterns
  • Impacts of transport investments on property prices
  • Improving the street environment in various areas of Southampton
  • Pathways to sustainable travel for young people with special educational needs
  • Quantifying the impacts of underestimating motor vehicle emissions
  • Tool design for personalised travel planning
  • Using smartcard data to analyse public transport usage in London

I will also consider supervising postgraduate research students on topics which relate to my main research interests.  Please contact me if you would like to discuss a potential project.


My career at TRG began in 2006, when I started work on a PhD on demand forecasting for new local railway stations and services.  While undertaking my PhD research I reached the final of the 2007 BA Perspectives competition, and won the 2009 Smeed Prize for the best student paper at the Universities' Transport Study Group Annual Conference.  In 2009 I was awarded an EPSRC PHD+ research fellowship to undertake a project titled ‘A Decision Support System For Optimising Local Rail Networks'.  My contract was subsequently extended to allow me to work on a range of research projects relating both to rail and to transport more widely (see my ‘Research' tab for more details), and I was promoted to the position of Senior Research Fellow in 2012.  I was appointed to a lecturing post at TRG effective from February 2014, and then promoted to Associate Professor effective from March 2019.

Throughout my career I have worked hard to disseminate my research to interested parties in academia, government and industry and to the general public.  I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a member of the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

I have previously served as Secretary (2016-2019) and Membership Secretary (2014-2016) of the Royal Geographical Society’s Transport Geography Research Group, as a member of the Rail Research UK Association Executive Committee (2014-2018) and as Honorary Secretary of the Universities' Transport Study Group (2011-2012).  In 2012 I spent time as a Visiting Researcher at the Institute for Transport and Logistics Studies, University of Sydney.

Before moving to TRG I obtained an MSc in Transport from Imperial College London and University College London, and a first class honours degree in Geography from the University of Oxford.  During both degrees I undertook transport-related research projects, looking respectively at the occurrence of fatal railway accidents across Europe, and the potential for microfranchising of local UK rail operations.  I also gained first-hand experience of working in the transport industry as a travel advisor for First North Western Trains and carrying out public transport surveys for Flintshire County Council.

Alongside my work at TRG between 2006 and 2013 I was project manager for a major new encyclopaedic reference work, the ‘Companion to Public Road Transport History'.  This involved coordinating the work of a ten member editorial board and over 140 individual authors, to produce a 400,000 word book which was published in December 2013.

Dr Simon Blainey
Engineering, University of Southampton, Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus, Burgess Road, Southampton, SO16 7QF

Room Number : 176/4005

Facsimile: (023) 8059 3152

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