EPSRC DTP PhD studentship: Resilience of transport networks: Assessing the impact of asset failures

University of Exeter - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Supervisors: Dr. Prakash Kripakaran, Dr. Prathyush Menon

The vulnerability of our transport networks to extreme weather events and its tremendous impacts on our society and national economy has been brought to the fore many times by floods and storms during the past few years. Transport asset owners and operators are urged to undertake measures to enhance the resilience of their networks. Though several engineering measures are available, only a few can be implemented due to financial constraints. Consequently measures that offer the most value in terms of resilience must be chosen for implementation. However due to a lack of a rational approach for comparing various measures prior to implementation in terms of its benefits to network resilience, practitioners end up relying on ad hoc and inefficient decision making mechanisms that are driven mainly by knowledge of capital cost and the perceived importance of the asset. This research will address this practical need that is fundamental to developing coherent, systematic and cost-efficient decision making mechanisms to enhance resilience in networks.

The aim is to develop a simulation framework, which is founded on the principles of socio-economic network models and systems and transport theory, to enable modelling failures or reduction in service capacity of assets of transport networks under hypothetical extreme weather scenarios.

The goal will be to provide transport network operators and transport policy-makers a reliable approach for evaluating and comparing various alternatives available to enhance resilience within their networks, and thereby enabling them to make rational informed decisions with respect to future transport interventions. This will require the student to come up with strategies for simulating transport networks, and in particular, the disruption to networks due to partial or full route closures. The project will also need to create approaches for calculating the societal as well as economic impact of such disruptions. The student will implement these concepts within a simulation platform, and then demonstrate how it is useful to assess various measures for enhancing resilience within a case study area chosen in consultation with industry partners. The student will then demonstrate the working of the developed ideas in the case study zone. The vibration engineering research group has active links with Devon County Council, Network Rail and other transport network owners in UK, who we will provide data for the case study. The student will also have the opportunity to network with leading research groups internationally through various links already existing via the research group.

The project being a multidisciplinary research topic, would require the student to have an undergraduate degree in a quantitative subject such as engineering, mathematics or computing. The student would also need to have a deep interest and/or an academic background in network systems modelling and statistical methods alongside a strong motivation to apply these techniques for real engineering problems.

The student will be able to demonstrate a proof-of-concept of the methodology by the end of the third year. By the time of completion of the project, the student will have obtained valuable skills in network modelling, statistical methods and transport asset management. The student will also have led research that has had demonstrable impact in a real-life engineering project. All of these are valuable for initiating an exciting academic career or taking on a challenging role in industry dealing with network modelling and management.

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South West England