A systems approach to developing future urban systems: creating a metro that fits the megalopolis

Marcelo Blumenfeld, Felix Schmid, Clive Roberts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Citation (Scopus)


The emergence of the megalopolis has created social, economic and environmental burdens that result in significant challenges for the sustainability of urban systems. More specifically, transport in growing megalopoleis has become an important issue, known to contribute significant social and environmental impacts in urban areas. However, traditional scientific approaches do not appear to cope with the complexity of these systems or to alter the trajectory of current trends towards desirable outcomes. Considering the increasing urgency for a more sustainable future, we contend that a holistic view should be combined with a normative problem-solving approach. Based on this, we propose a novel methodology that combines the back-casting method with a systems engineering approach in order to develop a design process to generate innovative and robust solutions so as to address the uncertainty of future scenarios. We apply this design process to the task of resolving the systemic paradox of coverage, speed and capacity in metro systems. The case study leads to a solution that increases average door-to-door speeds by up to 55% and capacity by 30% when compared to conventional operations and thus meets the sustainability goals of megalopoleis.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International Conference on Railway Engineering (ICRE) 2016
PublisherInstitution of Engineering and Technology
ISBN (Electronic)978-1785612930
ISBN (Print)978-1785612923
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2017
Event2016 International Conference on Railway Engineering, ICRE 2016 - Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 12 May 201613 May 2016


Conference2016 International Conference on Railway Engineering, ICRE 2016


  • Futures
  • Methodology
  • Metro systems
  • Sustainability
  • Systems engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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