A systemic approach to sustainable railway infrastructure planning: the case study of Milton Keynes

Udoka Okonta, Amin Hosseinian Far, Dilshad Sarwar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: With the rise in demand and adoption of smart city initiatives, it is imperative to plan the railway infrastructure as it will have a huge positive impact if adequately integrated into the planning process. Given the complexities involved, a whole systems thinking framework provides a useful platform for rail transport planners.Methodology: This paper proposes a simple adoptable framework utilising Systems Thinking concepts and techniques taking into cognizance the key stakeholders. Milton Keynes in the United Kingdom is the adopted case study.Findings: Selected Systems Thinking tools and techniques are adopted to develop a framework for mapping stakeholders and attributes when developing sustainable rail transport systems, taking note of their core functionalities and the complex systems wherein they exist. Originality: The developed framework reduces complexities when planning and designing rail transport systems compared to many of the existing reductionist planning approaches. The simplicity of the framework would also make it easily adoptable by a wide range of users. Practical Implications: The desire to build future (smart) cities is to effectively match infrastructural resources with a rapidly growing population; and the railway sector can play strategic role in building a much more competitive low-carbon-emission transport system, which is a driving force for sustainable development.Social Implications: The urban rail service has become vital to urban development as railway stations serve as hubs for sustainable mobility to meet local requirements. Moreover, it takes extra effort to input railway development in smart city plans as it is a herculean task to get governments to focus on it with clarity of purpose in passing legislation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalSmart and Sustainable Built Environment
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2023


  • Sustainable Development
  • Smart Cities
  • Railway Infrastructure
  • Systems Thinking
  • Systemigram
  • Ideal Final Result


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