Research Output

What's wrong with freight models and what should we do about it?

  After many years of neglect, freight, freight operations, and commodity flow models are now attracting substantial attention, and there is a wide perception among transportation
analysts that they all need a careful overhaul. In this paper the range of applications and issues associated with different forms of freight model are considered. Confusion about
what one can do with a given model is often founded on a lack of transparency as to the domain of application for which the model was originally designed and set up. In this
paper the authors offer a framework for placing existing freight models in the context of both the temporal targets and the valid domains of application for which they were
originally developed. A conclusion of this exercise is that, while existing freight models are simply not up to the task of forecasting future freight activity, there are a number of
uses for which these models are well suited. This includes the ability to “predict the present”, an objective and also a technical challenge that has been much under-rated to
date. The appropriate action is to assess what the user feels is missing, and to rebalance research efforts to match.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    30 November 2005

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Transportation Research Board, Washington D.C., USA


Southworth, F. & Wigan, M. (2005). What's wrong with freight models and what should we do about it?



Freight models; Freight operations models; Commodity flow models; Temporal targets; Domains of application; Predictive modelling;

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