Portsmouth Harbour with historic dockyard ships and ferries

Transportation and maritime systems research

Explore our work in transport and maritime systems research, 1 of our areas of expertise in Operational Research and Logistics

Our Transportation and Maritime Systems research focuses on developing innovative optimisation models and decision support systems. We aim to help improve the mobility of people, goods and services.

Our transport research considers the economic, environmental and policy implications of key developments and issues in road, rail, sea, air, and multi-modal transport. There's growing demand to develop and promote emerging modelling techniques to drive the UK's transport market, and our research supports the use of new and emerging technologies to enable smarter, greener and more efficient movement of people and goods around the world. It's a fast-growing sector, with an estimated market value of more than £900bn per year by 2025.

The marine sector is one of the most important commercial, research and innovation clusters in the world, worth an annual £3.5 billion. It currently accounts for 20.5% of the gross value added with our region, providing 48,000 jobs locally and supporting over 3,000 businesses. Over the next 12 years, this sector is projected to grow by 5% in the region, driven in part by key assets such as the ports of Portsmouth and Southampton, Portsmouth Naval Base and the South Coast Marine Cluster. Our University is perfectly placed to make a difference.

Research at Portsmouth has real synergy with the UK Government's new industrial strategy. The Government has issued a grand challenge on the 'Future of Mobility'. It comes with millions in funding for research and innovation projects focused on everything from zero-emission vehicles and low carbon tech, to upgrading public transport links. This creates opportunities for our work to make an even bigger impact.

Our current research projects will lead to better maritime and transportation systems, both in terms of passenger experience and freight efficiency, and through the enhancement of environmental aspects.

    Our research covers the following topics

    • Public transport planning and management
    • Intelligent transportation systems
    • Freight transportation
    • Sustainable transport
    • Inventory routing
    • Location routing
    • Maritime logistics
    • Railway transport
    • Airline scheduling
    • Container port optimisation


    We use a range of research methods including optimisation modelling, multi-criteria decision making, prediction modelling, heuristics and metaheuristic methods, and simulation.



      Strong collaborations with industry are at the heart of our approach, and we collaborate with a broad variety of partners across a host of different sectors, including the following:

      Transport Working Group for Greentech South Innovation Cluster

      We're the lead academic partner of this working group, created by Future Solent to support businesses in the low carbon transport sector

      National Autonomy Centre

      We're lending our research expertise to a major push for the wide adoption of autonomous operation in the maritime sector, across the Solent region

      The UK's Catapult Centres in Transport, Satellite Applications, and Digital

      We work closely with these centres, which are designed to transform the UK’s capability for innovation in those areas, and help to drive future economic growth. In particular, we've established a 10-year collaboration programme with the Transport Systems Catapult to develop and promote emerging modelling techniques for the UK's Intelligent Mobility market, which uses new tech to transport people and goods more smartly and efficiently

      Business partnerships

      Our large range of business partnerships also includes: Airbus, BAE Systems, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DStl), Solent LEP, Transport for London, Arriva UK Trains, TP Group/Polaris Consulting, L3 ASV (Unmanned Marine Systems), Tructyre Ltd, Optrak, Meachers Global, Rolls Royce, Lucketts Travel, First Capital Connect, South Eastern Railway, Portsmouth City Council, ABP, Portsmouth Port, TRL, Wearebase Ltd, Ordnance Survey, BMT Argos, Sustrans, Gully Howard Services, and Decision Lab Ltd


      We've received funding from bodies including Innovate UK, Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), EU Interreg, and EU Horizon 2020. Recent funding includes:

      • Innovate UK – Windfarm autonomous support vessels project, £153,000
      • RSSB – Intelligent gatelines project, £241,412
      • CDE and Dstl – Risk-based metaheuristic model to provide real-time route optimisation, £31,000
      • Innovate UK – Decision support analysis tool for maintenance scheduling and routing in offshore windfarms, Knowledge Transfer Partnership, £91,822
      • Innovate UK – Airport safety landing/take off model in the presence of obstacles, £10,000

      Publication highlights

      Enhanced multi-directional local search for the bi-objective heterogeneous vehicle routing problem with multiple driving ranges

      European Journal of Operational Research, 2019, Professor Djamila Ouelhadj, Eskandarpour, M., Hatami, S., Juan, A. A. & Dr Banafsheh Khosravi


      Multi-objective vehicle routing and loading with time window constraints: a real-life application – routing and loading

      Annals of Operations Research, 2019, Dr Xiang Song, Professor Dylan Jones, Asgari, N. & Pigden, T.


      Discover our areas of expertise

      Transportation and maritime systems is 1 of our 8 areas of expertise in Operational Research and Logistics. Explore the others below.

      Decision and data analytics

      Research in the design of decision support systems, and use of data analysis, to help people make better decisions through a better understanding of their data.

      Information analyst looking at data on a monitor
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      Exact and metaheuristic solution methods

      Heuristic and metaheuristic techniques are powerful and flexible research methodologies that offer a faster way of solving complex logistical challenges.

      Person looking at projection
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      Healthcare analytics

      From nurse scheduling to infection and disease modelling, our research provides decision-makers in the healthcare sector with optimal strategies for treatment.

      Nurse pointing at scan on computer screen
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      Multiple criteria decision aid

      Approaching complex problems with conflicting criteria, or uncertain data, our research helps people make more informed decisions.

      Meeting between large group in room with pink wall
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      Optimisation Modelling

      As well as improving business efficiency, we're enabling people to make optimal decisions that can lead to practices with enhanced economic, environmental or social benefits.

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      Renewable Energy and Sustainability Analytics

      Modelling to answer a host of questions, from how to produce renewable energy more cheaply, to how the associated logistics can be sustainable.

      Windfarm at sea on a sunny day
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      Risk and security analytics

      We help organisations learn from failures, so they can improve the quality and resilience of their operations, and we develop new analytic approaches to detect security threats.

      Man cleaning up oil spill on a beach in Thailand
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      Research groups

      Centre for Operational Research and Logistics

      We're using our expertise in analytics, system design, simulation, programming, and forecasting to help organisations around the world make better decisions.

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      Logistics, Operational Research and Analytics Group

      Our Logistics, Operational Research and Analytics Research Group members conduct and supervise research in a wide range of fields.

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      Interested in a PhD in Operational Research & Logistics?

      Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Operational Research & Logistics postgraduate research degrees page.