A hybrid Delphi-AHP multi-criteria analysis of Moving Block and Virtual Coupling railway signalling

Joelle Aoun*, Egidio Quaglietta, Rob M.P. Goverde, Martin Scheidt, Marcelo Blumenfeld, Anson Jack, Bill Redfern

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The railway industry needs to investigate overall impacts of next generation signalling systems such as Moving Block (MB) and Virtual Coupling (VC) to identify development strategies to face the forecasted railway demand growth. To this aim an innovative multi-criteria analysis (MCA) framework is introduced to analyse and compare VC and MB in terms of relevant criteria including quantitative (e.g. costs, capacity, stability, energy) and qualitative ones (e.g. safety, regulatory approval). We use a hybrid Delphi-Analytic Hierarchic Process (AHP) technique to objectively select, combine and weight the different criteria to more reliable MCA outcomes. The analysis has been performed for different rail market segments including high-speed, mainline, regional, urban and freight corridors. The results show that there is a highly different technological maturity level between MB and VC given the larger number of vital issues not yet solved for VC. The MCA also indicates that VC could outperform MB for all market segments if it reaches a comparable maturity and safety level. The provided analysis can effectively support the railway industry in strategic investment planning of VC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103250
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • AHP
  • Delphi
  • Moving block signalling
  • Multi-criteria analysis
  • Railway operations
  • Virtual coupling

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