Sensitivity enriched multi-criterion decision making process for novel railway switches and crossings − a case study

Hitesh Boghani, Ramakrishnan Ambur, Marcelo Blumenfeld Mendonca, Louis Saade, Roger M. Goodall, Christopher Ward, Otto Plasek, Neil Gofton, Miquel Morata, Clive Roberts, Roger Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
155 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Despite their important role in railway operations, switches and crossings (S&C) have changed little since their conception over a century ago. It stands now that the existing designs for S&C are reaching their maximum point of incremental performance improvement, and only a radical redesign can overcome the constraints that current designs are imposing on railway network capacity. This paper describes the process of producing novel designs for next generation switches and crossings, as part of the S-CODE project. Methods: Given the many aspects that govern a successful S&C design, it is critical to adopt multi criteria decision making (MCDM) processes to identify a specific solution for the next generation of switches and crossings. However, a common shortcoming of these methods is that their results can be heavily influenced by external factors, such as uncertainty in criterium weighting or bias of the evaluators, for example. This paper therefore proposes a process based on the Pugh Matrix method to reduce such biases by using sensitivity analysis to investigate them and improve the reliability of decision making. Results: In this paper, we analysed the influences of three different external factors, measuring the sensitivity of ranking due to (a) weightings, (b) organisational and (c) discipline bias. The order of preference of the results was disturbed only to a minimum while small influences of bias were detected. Conclusions: Through this case study, we believe that the paper demonstrates an effective case study for a quantitative process that can improve the reliability of decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalEuropean Transport Research Review
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding: The authors are grateful to the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program for receiving funding for the project S-CODE (Switch and Crossing Optimal Design and Evaluation) project (730849).


  • Multi-criterion decision making
  • Pugh matrix
  • Railway tracks
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Switches and crossings (S&C)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Mechanical Engineering


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