The importance of the adverse impacts of network degradation has stimulated substantial international research interest in transport network reliability, that is, the ability of degraded transport networks to cope with travel demand. Most of the recent research effort has focused on the reliability of urban passenger transport networks, in terms of the probability that the network will deliver a required standard of performance. This situation is characterised by high levels of congestion, a dense road network, and quantifiable probability of degradation of the network. Outside major urban centres, the situation is very different. The main dominant consideration in transport network infrastructure provision is accessibility - linking urban centres, providing regional coverage, and basic levels of accessibility for the non-urban community and economy. The network is sparse, congestion is not a significant issue, and access to essential community services and to markets is the major driving force underlying network development. In this context, the vulnerability of the network is perhaps more important than ‘reliability’. This paper develops the concept of network vulnerability. It begins by reviewing the current state of research into network reliability, then proposes extensions and adaptations to the reliability concepts that are more appropriate for strategic-level multi-modal transport systems. Several alternative definitions for vulnerability are proposed. The paper also discusses the development of algorithmic and visualisation tools that may be used to identify specific ‘weak spots’ in a network, where failure of some part of the transport infrastructure would have the most serious effects on access to specific locations and on overall system performance. Finally, the paper describes potential applications of network vulnerability concepts, and proposes directions for further research.
The authors acknowledge the support of Australian Research Council. Dr D'Este expresses his gratitude for the ongoing support and encouragement from the Transport Systems Centre of the University of South Australia.
D'Este, G.M. and Taylor, M.A.P. (2003), "Network Vulnerability: An Approach to Reliability Analysis at the Level of National Strategic Transport Networks", Bell, M.G.H. and Iida, Y. (Ed.) The Network Reliability of Transport, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 23-44. https://doi.org/10.1108/9781786359544-002
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