Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Chris Nash
Chapter 7: Congestion and scarcity in scheduled transport modes
Congestion is a familiar concept within the road sector, first and foremost since it provides a very hands-on and frequent experience for many drivers. Analytically, congestion is an external effect within the collective of drivers in so far as the marginal driver causes extra time for those already in the system without necessarily taking this into account. This is the basis for a proactive policy towards congestion, designed in order to ascertain an optimal mix of pricing and investment principles to handle the imbalance between supply of and demand for roads. The meaning of congestion, in modes where scheduling is a prerequisite for operations, differs from the definition of congestion in the road sector. There are furthermore both similarities and differences in the way in which congestion manifests itself when comparing different scheduled modes. In the railway sector the presence of high demand means that there are not tracks available to cater for the wishes of all railway operators, or that some must adjust their demand for access in order to cater for the demand from one or more other operators. As a consequence, services may not commence without operators having been allocated a slot long before a train is about to leave. We will characterise this as a scarcity problem which is solved by constructing a timetable that can be advertised to travellers well beforehand.
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