A systems approach to developing a new metro for megalopoleis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



The significant growth in the size of cities has led to an increase in distances travelled that emphasises the systemic shortcomings of metros. Metro systems are hindered by a paradox between the time to access stations and the average speed on the line, which prevents them from offering competitive door-to-door speeds within the natural time budgets of users. The authors present a novel methodology that combines the back-casting method with a systems engineering approach to develop a robust problem-solving process that can cope with the uncertainty of future scenarios. The approach has been used to develop a solution to the paradox, that is based on an operational strategy where autonomous vehicles stop in different patterns at stations along a line. It is proposed that vehicles will travel in platoons and be controlled by vehicle-to-vehicle communication algorithms similarly to those in automated highways. Simulations show that this strategy can increase the average speed on a line by 129%, reducing door-to-door journey times by up to 45%, compared to conventional operations. Moreover, capacity is increased by 30% within conventional platform lengths. In conclusion, this process can lead to solutions that accommodate future demands and change current trends into more desirable futures.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-261
Number of pages13
JournalInstitution of Civil Engineers. Proceedings. Transport
Issue numberTR5
Early online date14 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Planning & scheduling, Railway systems, Transport planning