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NSF: Resilience in Rail-Based Intermodal Transportation Systems: Performance Measurement and Decision Support


Elise Miller-Hooks

Funding Agency 

National Science Foundation


Risks from accidents, weather-induced hazards, and terrorist attacks on freight and passenger transport systems have dramatically increased in recent years. The occurrence of such events can have tremendous impact on system performance, especially intermodal (IM) systems, and can lead to significant economic loss. A secure and functioning transportation system is of paramount importance to society. To ensure that effective transport services can be provided in a disaster's aftermath, enabling society to recover, agencies charged with constructing, managing and operating these systems must invest in measures that prevent or mitigate the effects of disaster incidents. This research effort recognizes that the post-disaster performance of transportation networks depends not only on the inherent capability of the system to absorb externally induced changes, but also on the actions that can be taken in the immediate aftermath of the disaster to preserve or restore system performance. Identification of the appropriate pre-event preparatory and post-disaster recovery actions and related investment allocation decisions can play a crucial role in lessening ensuing post-disaster economic and societal loss. This effort will provide a comprehensive set of tools, that explicitly consider opportunities for post-disaster recovery activity, to support rail-based IM system performance measurement, operational decision-making, preparedness planning and immediate post-disaster action. The development of such tools requires the mathematical modeling of complex dynamic and stochastic systems and creation of exact algorithms and faster heuristics for solution of large-scale real-world problems. Developed tools will aid the managers of these critical lifelines to effectively address threats from disasters. While results of this effort will have wide applicability, its focus is on rail-based IM passenger and freight transport systems and their components (e.g. passenger depots, IM terminals, ports).

The performance measurement, preparedness planning and operational decision-making tools developed through this effort will provide support to infrastructure managers and IM system operators of rail-based IM passenger and freight transport systems, facilitating optimal investment decisions aimed at preventing or ameliorating the effects of disasters. Application of these tools will aid in securing the IM transport networks and address society's need for a stable system.

Resilience in Rail-Based Intermodal Transportation Systems: Performance Measurement and Decision Support is a five-year, $421K award.