Research: modelling freight tours for heavy goods vehicles

Tour formation is a distinguishing feature of freight transportation. An increasing amount of research is dedicated to the consideration of tour formation in freight simulation models, but these tour formation models lack statistical calibration on empirical data, do not represent shipments explicitly, or focus on a narrow segment of freight transportation with heavy goods vehicles.

This MSc thesis by Sebastiaan Thoen from the Delft University of Technology presents a novel shipment‐based approach to model tour formation behaviour. He developed an algorithm that constructs tours through an iterative allocation of an additional shipment. Two choice models provide an empirical foundation to this algorithm. Parameters of these choice models are estimated on a dataset with information regarding over two million shipments. This information is gathered automatically from the planning systems of transportation companies in the Netherlands.

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With this model, he was able to reproduce observed tour patterns excellently for a given set of shipments. In addition, the model considers many objectives and constraints that determine the tour formation process and acknowledges differences between goods, vehicle, and location types. For example, shipments at ports tend to be transported with direct tours, while tours starting at a distribution center have more stops and drive shorter distances.

This model can be applied in a shipment‐based freight simulation framework to construct tours for third‐party carriers in the Netherlands, to support building (non urban and urban) goods flow models for traffic planning and management and to provide information for charging infrastructure planning for heavy goods vehicles.

Thesis title: A behavioral shipment-based model of freight tour formation.


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