As the backbone that connects people, businesses, goods and ideas, transport plays a key role in any country’s economic growth. Poland, the sixth largest country in the EU by surface area, has been working to map its transport network as part of its journey towards creating a more sustainable and resilient system. But how do you create a data-rich, integrated transport model that can analyse and predict the travel patterns of nearly 38 million people across over 300,000 km²?
Based in Poland, the Centre for EU Transport Projects (CEUTP), a public body which helps beneficiaries to prepare and deliver transport projects co-financed by the EU, has been tasked with creating an integrated traffic model to inform the development of a national transport strategy and guide future investment.
Arup was commissioned by the CEUTP under a framework to provide economic, technical and legal advisory services with the ultimate aim of creating a data-rich, bias-free integrated transport model to guide future transport investment decisions. Bringing together road, rail, aviation and inland waterways in one digital model, our Integrated Transport Model (ITM) is the country’s first independent tool of this scale and complexity, bringing together several data sources to map out some 60 million journeys daily.
Our holistic, multi-modal ITM framework allows public authorities to assess travel demand and transportation needs – including mapping existing gaps and predicting potential bottlenecks – to effectively guide future strategy and policymaking, while enhancing connectivity both at national level and linking in with key European transport hubs.
60 mln daily journeys
Where, when, how: informing transport decision-making
Data-based traffic and congestion forecasting tools can inform a country’s transport policy and decision-making, but the lack of exhaustive data often poses a significant challenge. While different public bodies in Poland had previously developed a range of models, they were biased towards a specific transport mode: one based on rail, one based on freight and two focused on roads.
Poland’s new Integrated Transport Model, developed by Arup’s multidisciplinary team of transport and airport planners, highway engineers, economists and data scientists, incorporates all transport modes to create a bias-free central tool for non-partisan, strategic infrastructure planning. The digital tool, a key requirement to verify future EU transport infrastructure projects, will accurately identify areas of transport exclusion to help prioritise future investments.
The new multi-modal model estimates demand through a bottom-up assessment of travel behaviour. It uses four steps to compare investment programmes, generating the total number of trips, the impact on travel distance and travel modes, as well as spatial distribution to measure the economic impact.
To develop an ample database, specialists from several Arup offices across Europe worked together to track 60 million journeys on an average day in Poland, analysing how many journeys were taken in each region, where and how far people travelled as well as what type of transport they chose.
Digital tools: closing the data gap
In the absence of country-wide statistics, our transport consultants collected data from voivodships and districts to create a national database, which was then complemented with inputs from a range of sources including Google API - used for the first time in Polish modelling history.
As recommended by our consultants, the client carried out a nation-wide pilot study of passenger behaviour to map revealed and stated preferences, surveying almost 9,000 people to feed the digital model.
The model can react to changes in passenger behaviour caused by modifications in the network such as pricing, travel times, public transport services and other socio-economic changes, helping to forecast future traffic flows and ensure transport accessibility. To test the model’s reliability, we ran a test checking the forecast against data from a historical day, which confirmed the accuracy of the simulation.
To develop our integrated model on Visum, our multidisciplinary team worked on a range of digital packages including Biogeme, STATGRAPHICS, as well as Arup’s proprietary programmes.
The model will enable forecasting of the planned infrastructure in various development variants (traffic forecasts) and with various socio-economic assumptions. ” Paweł Engel Deputy Director, Transport Analysis and Programming Department, CEUTP, during project summary workshop
Towards sustainable transport
Transforming the transport sector is a key EU policy driver in the short term: in Poland, enhancing rail infrastructure including high-speed is one of the country’s key decarbonisation strategies. The new Integrated Transport Model will demonstrate how mass transit systems like rail can reduce the country’s carbon footprint, while outlining its benefits to multiple stakeholders to encourage a widespread modal switch.
Acting as a guide to the authorities, the tool will help prioritise public transport infrastructure spending, establishing the most pressing needs and providing sound data to monitor carbon footprint.
Connecting people beyond borders
Under the upcoming 2021-2027 EU budget, verifying transport infrastructure projects with a digital model will be an enabling condition for granting funds. The model unlocks funding for transport infrastructure development in Poland and will help the country to seamlessly integrate within the wider EU transport networks.
As a widely used software in the EU, Visum provides the context and tools necessary to assess how infrastructure investments will fit into existing and future transport systems in the neighbouring countries to support cross-border mobility. The ITM model will also integrate with the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) highways and rail model, currently under development.