Air transport and air traffic management

This research area is run by a core team of three staff at Transport Studies: Dr. Nigel DennisDr. Andrew Cook and Graham Tanner specialise in the closely integrated research areas of Air Transport and Air Traffic Management. The former encompasses airline and airport research at the level of route planning, economics of operation and competitive analysis (with collaborations with Dr Anne Graham from the Centre for Tourism Research in the area of airport management and economics. The latter specifically covers the operational practices and management of Air Traffic Control.

While Transport Studies focuses on a number of market niches in Air Transport and Air Traffic Management this remains an adaptive capability, in response to changes in the aviation market, in terms of the economics of route competition, of technical innovation in ATM, and of policy drivers – notably the growing awareness of and responses to the links between aviation and climate change.

We also run a series of air transport short courses. The speakers on these course consist of our own research and individuals heavily involved in the air transport industry.


Work on cycling is led by Dr. Rachel Aldred who co-ordinates the 30-member London Cycling Research Group (LCRG). It covers work building on the two year ESRC funded qualitative research project, Cycling Cultures, including ongoing research on cycling activism and advocacy in London.

Related funded projects include a new ESRC-funded project Changing Commutes, which will build an agent-based model exploring the role of social influence and social learning in cycling uptake (in collaboration with Cambridge University, LSHTM and Salford University), and the ESRC seminar series Modelling on the Move, which explores transport modelling in the context of sustainability transitions including the need for shifts to higher levels of cycling and walking.

Key networks include links with other universities through the LCRG and international networks, and links with public, private and voluntary sector organisations and practitioners involved in cycling.

Freight transport and logistics

Research into freight transport, distribution and logistics began in 1978 and has developed into one of the Group's major interests. It is carried out by a leading international research team with the majority of the projects involving national and international collaboration.

Much of the research carried out in recent years has been concerned with the sustainability of freight transport and logistics operations both in the UK and internationally. This work is categorised by the following three headings:

  • Sustainable urban freight transport and logistics - as a result of its flexibility, road handles the overwhelming majority of goods distribution in urban areas. Economic, environmental and social impacts associated with this freight activity are significant as a result of the conflicts that result in densely populated areas. The research team works closely with both the public and private sectors to identify ‘best practice’ in urban freight operations, to allow businesses to operate more efficiently while reducing the environmental and social impacts of the movements. This is a particular issue for very large cities such as London, and the team has been involved in a number of projects looking to improve London’s logistics sustainability through improved operational performance, enhanced data collection and analysis, better regulation, and enhanced freight transport facilities.
  • Encouraging the use of non-road freight transport modes - rail freight is typically less damaging to the environment than road haulage, but its current share of the market is low and achieving a shift of traffic from road to rail is challenging. Sustainability concerns are encouraging more interest in rail freight’s potential, for example through companies’ corporate social responsibility’ agendas, and the team has been conducting considerable research to assist both the public and private sectors to better understand the scope for them to transfer freight flows to the rail network. This research brings together diverse topics such as supply chain management, land use planning and rail system regulation and management.
  • Energy use and CO2 emissions along the supply chain - freight operations are a major consumer of fossil fuels and a contributor to CO2 and other pollutant emissions. Scope exists to reduce energy use through the development and promotion of energy saving technology and equipment, and by reorganising freight transport and logistics operations. Traditionally, work in this field has focused solely on the transport vehicle. The research team has developed methodologies and evaluation techniques that investigate energy use and emissions across all transport and logistics stages of a product’s supply chain. This approach is essential in order to determine which stages of the chain are the most energy-intensive to determine how decisions made at one point in the supply chain can affect energy use and emissions at another.

The team has built up a considerable strength in working with partners from the public and private sector to achieve research goals and ensure knowledge transfer.

Further details about the freight and logistics research team and a selection of recent projects can be found on our Projects page.

Public transport

Research in public transport began in 1971. It has developed under the leadership of Professor Peter White. ‘Public transport’ is taken to focus mainly on rail, metro, coach and bus systems but also includes taxis and private hire vehicles. Public transport research builds on the following strengths.

Research expertise

  • monitoring of industry trends (ridership, financial performance, etc.)
  • impacts of deregulation and privatisation
  • measurement of ridership
  • impacts of teleworking on public transport systems
  • school transport issues
  • use of smartcard data for management purposes
  • the express coach industry

Detailed knowledge

  • use of smartcard data for management purposes
  • the express coach industry

Good working relationships

  • Transport for London (TfL)
  • organisations representing the transport operating industries including International Union of Public Transport (UITP)

Transport and Land Use Interactions

This research area is led by Dr Enrica Papa, Reader in Transport Planning. Much of the research carried out in recent years has been focused on the concept of accessibility: the ease of reaching destinations and a way to evaluate the performance of the transport system.

Our research use econometrics, spatial analytics, and complex systems approach to study the connection between transport and land-use.

Related funded projects include the COST Action Accessibility Instruments for Planning Practice and the Moving to Access initiative, led by the Brookings Institution. 

Key networks include the AESOP Transportation and Policy Group and the Cluster 6 of the NECTAR Network on European Communications and Transport Activities Research, the International Transport Forum and the European Association of Transport AET.