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Research project

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

Project overview

This project forms part of the FCDO High Volume Transport applied research programme (, and has involved developing and delivering what is (to the best of our knowledge) the first multi-state transport infrastructure decision support system in a developing context. The system aims 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. As well as covering infrastructure investments, the system is sufficiently flexible to also allow assessment of changes to the management and operation of long-distance road and rail systems. The project is working at national and international scales, modelling the road, rail and port networks in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, with a particular focus on strategic freight network development. Initial work focused in two areas. Future scenarios for strategic transport networks have been developed covering both exogenous factors such as population and economic development and endogenous factors including infrastructure changes and advances in transport technology. The project has also assembled datasets to represent the transport infrastructure networks across the case study region and the usage of these networks. These datasets and scenarios have been used as the basis for the development of a methodology for calculating sustainability metrics associated with potential transport schemes, including (for example) carbon emissions, local air pollution, network resilience and safety. A comprehensive network resilience assessment has also being carried out, including the identification of locations which are exposed to climate hazards and quantification of the risk to transport networks at these points. The final stage of the project involved building a web-based tool to allow transport stakeholders to explore future scenarios, navigate trade-offs between different sustainability goals and compare transport investments and policies. This was demonstrated to over 50 local stakeholders in a series of four in-country workshops in September 2022, and is available via


Lead researcher

Professor Simon Blainey PhD, FRGS, FHEA, MCIHT, CMILT

Professor of Sustainable Transport

Research interests

  • Rail demand and operations modelling
  • GIS and transport
  • Transport decision support systems
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Other researchers

Professor John Preston

Professor in Rail Transport

Research interests

  • Demand, capacity and cost modelling for sustainable transport infrastructure.
  • The design, monitoring and evaluation of transport interventions designed to promote sustainable choices.
  • The determination of pathways for future mobility transitions to net zero carbon.
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Mr Adrian Hickford

Senior Research Assistant

Research interests

  • Methods to assess future changes to national and regional infrastructure systems
  • Promoting use of active travel and sustainable transport and improvements to road safety
  • Sustainable distribution and freight
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Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs