With some twenty-five years' experience and in excess of 70 publications in systems engineering and operational research, Andrew specializes in the strategic management, planning and operation of railway networks i.e. how to deliver railways that are competitive in a rapidly-changing, modern economy of wide-scale car ownership and ever cheaper air travel.
Dr Tobias’ interest in railway systems engineering can be traced back to the mid 1980s at Lucas Industries where he first became involved with using discrete simulation and various systems modelling approaches in production engineering. This work had included the design of manufacturing systems, associated business control systems, and interfaces to suppliers and customers - all in the context of very rapid and radical change management.
He moved to the University of Birmingham in 1988 to investigate using simulation in manufacturing more deeply. His first significant investigations included some development work with two major manufacturing companies in the West Midlands funded by the Department of Trade and Industry under the Teaching Company Initiative.
The second phase of his research was to investigate the limitations of discrete simulation and system dynamics as methodologies as modelling methodologies more generally. In particular he concerned himself complexity, simplification, level of detail and accuracy, and extending the use of complex adaptive systems and soft systems approaches in the processes of building and using simulation models.
This broadly theoretical work finally led him about eight years ago into his third and current major area of activity, i.e. railway systems engineering. He joined the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education in 2002.
Railway networks and performance; economics of railway transport; passenger and freight demand; future transport technologies (including urban light transport, personal rapid transit etc), alternative infrastructure and integration strategies, traffic control, and timetabling and scheduling.
Dr Tobias is interested in challenging conventional wisdom about the railways.
What can we reasonably expect from our railways? Are they good value for money? How effectively are people and freight being moved around? How has performance changed over the years and what trends are evident?
How exactly do we manage getting people out of their cars and onto trains? What is the best approach to integrating high-speed links with local services and with other transport modes? Where should new hubs be located, where should new lines be introduced?
Can we get more freight off the roads and onto the railways? Where does the network need expanding? Where should new depots be located? And what about beyond heavy haul? Could manufacturers feed retail parks and large supermarkets solely by rail - with no road haulage at all?
Looking even further ahead, what changes the next 50 years or so hold in store for our railways, and how can we forecast them? What futures are most likely? What might be the shape of things to come? What differences might we see across the globe?