Rail transport system vulnerability analysis and policy implementation: Past progress and future directions

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, planning - safety/accidents, policy, literature review - literature review


Railway, Vulnerability, Rail accident, Disruption, Policy


Analysis of the vulnerability of rail transport systems has received considerable attention in the literature over several decades. Since economic development is usually associated with increasing demand for railway transport as more and more passengers rely on railways, the consequence of disruptions to the railway system becomes unaffordable and creates significant impact on society and economies. Hence, there is a growing need for effective mitigation strategies and greater appreciation of the linkage between vulnerability analysis and policy implementation. This paper reviews recent studies of methods applied for vulnerability analysis of rail transport systems and assesses their policy or strategy-related content. The result shows the predominance of topological approaches in the railway vulnerability analysis context; however, very few provide concrete policy- or strategy-related implications and suggestions. The findings also show that the link between research in the context of vulnerability analysis and risk analysis is weak, and practice-oriented studies are limited; this is identified as an area for future work. Overall, this paper provides a comprehensive insight into the state-of-the-art vulnerability analysis of rail transport systems, drawing on both research and practice and offers a guide for future studies. The remaining gap between theory and policymaking is clearly elaborated.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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