, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 425–442 | Cite as

New routes on old railways: increasing rail’s mode share within the constraints of the existing railway network

  • Simon P. Blainey
  • John Armstrong
  • Andrew S. J. Smith
  • John M. Preston


This paper describes an integrated methodology for identifying potential ‘quick wins’ for mode shift from road to passenger rail transport. Firstly, a procedure for analysing rail’s relative competitiveness in the market for passenger transport between large urban areas is developed and then applied to a UK case study. The purpose of such analysis is to allow the identification of flows where rail is currently relatively uncompetitive (in terms of journey time in particular) and to assess the reasons for this poor performance, so that the issues which suppress rail use may be addressed. In parallel, a framework, methodology and tool for the assessment of existing and potential capacity (trains, seats, TEUs, etc.) is developed for both passenger and freight traffic, to identify and address network constraints. An illustrative example of the use of these demand and capacity assessment tools is then presented, with the tools used to identify and evaluate flows where rail demand is suppressed by poor service quality and where spare capacity exists which would allow the passenger rail service to be improved without requiring significant investments in infrastructure. The effects of such improvements on demand are predicted, and the cost implications of operating such additional services are discussed. The analysis suggests that there may be significant potential for increasing rail’s mode share by providing additional inter-urban services where rail currently offers an inferior service.


Rail capacity Rail demand Rail costs Modal shift 



This work was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council as part of the Cross-Disciplinary Feasibility Account titled ‘Factor 20—Reducing CO2 Emissions from Inland Transport by a Major Modal Shift to Rail’, ref EP/H024743/1. Thanks are due to Adrian Hickford at TRG Southampton for work on data collection for the demand modelling, to Jake Cartmell and Samantha Evens at the UK Department for Transport for providing access to and assisting with the extraction of the TOAD data used in this study, to Richard Batley at ITS Leeds for investigating data availability, and to all those involved in the initial discussion of this research at the RRUK Feasibility Account Sandpit in February 2010. This paper contains Ordnance Survey data ©Crown copyright and database right 2013. This work is based on data provided through EDINA UKBORDERS with the support of the ESRC and JISC and uses boundary material which is copyright of the Crown.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon P. Blainey
    • 1
  • John Armstrong
    • 1
  • Andrew S. J. Smith
    • 2
  • John M. Preston
    • 1
  1. 1.Transportation Research Group, Faculty of Engineering & The EnvironmentUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Institute for Transport StudiesUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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