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Integrated Public Transport Optimisation and Planning

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Complete with results
STRIA Roadmaps
Smart mobility and services (SMO)
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues,
Deployment planning/Financing/Market roll-out,
Environmental/Emissions aspects
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Historically, there has been a limited tradition in using transport models and mathematical optimisation as tools for public transport planning (Ceder, 2007). Combined with the Danish set up with multiple organisations responsible for the public transport planning it is likely that the actual planning approach has led to solutions, which were suboptimal and inefficient for the passen­gers. However, with the recent years’ development in the availability of data, data storage and processing possibilities, development of more efficient optimisation algorithms, advances in transport modelling and the development of computer power the project ambition is to develop quantitative methods and tools that can enable a breakthrough in the support of the planning and operations of public transport in large scale.

Experience from transport surveys and models show that if the conditions for one type of transportation seen from the customer’s viewpoint are not satisfactory, then the customer will choose an alternative mode. Hence, even an expensive and green implementation of a transportation concept may fail to attract customers due to a mismatch between the customer requirements and the offered transportation possibilities (Anderson, 2013). IPTOP takes on an integrated approach to optimisation and planning of public transport. The main focus of the project is on the supply side of the transport system, including stop patterns, frequency setting, timetabling, focus on transfers and vehicle scheduling, how this influences the demand, and to clarify the restrictions to the planning and optimisation. A common focus for rail is how the new Danish Signalling Programme (EU ERTMS, Level 2) can contribute to more stable railway timetables, and better utilisation of the infrastructure.


IPTOP will develop innovative methods for transport service design and supervision that take advantage of previously unavailable traveller data. The practical goals of IPTOP are a balanced improvement in the traveller experience and operating efficiencies, and a consequent increase in public transport market share and progress in the response to climate change.

IPTOP asserts that recent advances in the field of analytics (databases, analysis tools) and new traveller data sources (due to new fare collection technologies) provide an opportunity for a completely fresh and new application of mathematical optimisation at a very large scale. In the past, narrow, localized optimization techniques have demonstrated benefits of 3-16%, according to the scenario and performance indicator used. IPTOP seeks even greater benefits from an integrated, large scale analysis of the transport network.

IPTOP will return significant publications and research contributions. The participation of transport firms, practitioners, and experienced researchers provides the resources to ad-dress large scale, real-life planning and optimisation problems that will be of interest in publications and international forums.


Funding Source
Innovation Fund Denmark


The research project IPTOP aims at developing new methods for planning, designing, controlling and optimising Danish public transport systems. The benefits for the passengers are short travelling time and better service. Aditionally the transport operators will gain economically. All together the expectations are to gain substantial societal and economic benefits compared to the overall investment.

IPTOP focuses on use of the recent advances in the field of analytics (databases, analysis tools) and new traveller data sources (due to new fare collection technologies). These advances provide an
opportunity for a completely fresh and new application of mathematical optimisation at a very large scale.

The project is funded by the Innovation Fund Denmark for a period of 5 years from 2015-2019.

Innovation aspects

IPTOP will advance the scientific state-of-the art with regard to:

  1. Data analysis and “big data” in traveller modal choice and transport consumption.
  2. Transport consumption and patronage in large-scale multi-modal net­works.
  3. Statistical foundations of simulation models that predict delays in public transport, in road, rail, and other modes.
  4. Overall optimisation of public transport schedules, including integration of optimisation models with demand models.
  5. Tactical management of transport operations under daily practical constraints.

IPTOP will also address the organisational constraints that are obstacles to the application of mathematical optimisation in public transport, and encourage the use of such methods in practice. The performance of the research will be measured through the quantity of scientific papers, as well as the success of the three PhD-studies and three Postdocs within the project.

For society, the key results of IPTOP will be a more efficient use of the resources used for public transport. The mathematical programming approach optimises an objective function, which weighs a set of different decision variables to maximise or minimise a given objective (e.g. to improve socio-economic revenue seen from the transport authorities point of view; to im­prove passenger utility and related to this; to maximise the mode shift to public transport; to achieve a higher efficiency of operation seen from the transport operators).

The variables in the object function can be directly measured as key performance indicators, e.g. savings of passengers transfer times, increasing number of passengers and hence reve­nues from ticket sales, and reduction of cost of operation. Since the models will be run on large-scale real-life cases, they can be seen as proof of concepts, and the improvement of the indicators will be documented as part of the scientific papers.

Practical application is ensured through close interaction with the following group, where the success indicator will be that the main transport authorities – BaneDanmark, Trafikstyrelsen and MOVIA use the methods for planning the public transport system and timetables. Operational achievements will be ensured through the participation of DSB (trains) and MOVIA (busses and local trains). Finally, implementation success is aided through the participation of the software company, Rapidis, which will assist in the software and user interface devel­opment. In the end, IPTOP will have clear performance measures, i.e. whether the organisations use the methods (or not), and the relative improvement in performance measures.



Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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