Dr Michael Burrow MA (Cantab), PhD

Dr Michael Burrow

Department of Civil Engineering
Reader in Infrastructure Asset Management
Convenor of MSc Road Management and Engineering

Contact details

Department of Civil Engineering
School of Engineering
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Michael Burrow is an international leader in infrastructure asset management.  His internationally leading research and teaching is geared towards bringing about sustainable, affordable, safe and reliable transportation for all.  His road research is improving the lives of the 900 million people globally who still do not have access to all season roads and whose welfare is, as a result, severely constrained.  The impact of this is being realised in eight OECD DAC countries where he is working closely with government road departments to implement his research. His aligned railway research is realising demonstrable and recognised financial improvements to the efficiency of the maintenance of the UK’s railway network.


  • PhD, University of Birmingham, 1998 
  • MA, University of Cambridge, 1999 
  • BA, University of Cambridge, 1994


Michael’s research focuses on road and railway infrastructure asset management (i.e. the economic and sustainable, appraisal, construction and maintenance of infrastructure). To support this, he has built and leads a team of road and railway infrastructure researchers.

His research, funded by donor agencies, the multilateral development banks (MDBs), international government departments, UKRI and the industry, focuses on achieving sustainable, affordable, safe and reliable transportation for all. His road research is improving the lives of the one billion people globally who still do not have access to roads all year round and whose welfare is, as a result, severely constrained. Michael is working closely with government road departments in Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Liberia and Sierra Leone to achieve this. His aligned railway research is realising demonstrable and recognised financial improvements to reducing the maintenance costs of the UK’s railway network.

Michael has won teaching development grants to disseminate his research and widen its impact via e-media; including MOOCs,, social media and videos. Michael’s vision is to build on his burgeoning reputation and grant success to grow his team so that he can further the impact and geographical reach of his research in developing and developed countries.


A teaching innovator who has won funding to develop: on-line modules on rural road topics (with funding from FCDO), game based learning methods (including a rural roads asset management simulation to assess students’ understanding of asset management), enquiry based learning technologies to assist formative assessment.  

Teaching Programmes

Road Management and Engineering MSc Programme

  • Rural Roads module (Rural road asset management, rural road infrastructure technologies), and module lead
  • Road Design and Planning module (Traffic engineering and geometric design), and module lead
  • Pavement Engineering (Road drainage), and module lead
  • Road Asset Management (risk management, international case studies)

Geotechnical Engineering MSc Programme

  • Geotechnical Asset Management (Life cycle analysis)

 Rural Roads residential course

  • Rural road asset management

Postgraduate supervision


  • Road deterioration modelling
  • Potential impact of climate change on road drainage
  • Road Safety
  • Railway investment appraisal
  • Railway maintenance
  • Railway maintenance management

Main or second supervisor of 15 current PhD students researching infrastructure asset management topics.

Supervised 23 PhD research students who have successfully graduated since 2014


Research themes

  • Road Asset Management 
  • Railway Asset Management 

Research activity

Road Asset Management 

1)   CRISPS (2020-22) – Climate resilient sustainable road pavement surfacings.

Principal investigator. This 24-month project, sponsored by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) under its High Volume Transport Programme, is assessing the suitability of three global best practice types of road surfacing technologies for use in low income countries to counter the impacts of climate change.  The methodology consists of assessing the life cycle costs of the three technologies, developing quality control approaches and trialling the technologies in Ethiopia. A team of world leading academic institutions, practitioners and an international road membership organisation is undertaking the work. The consortium is led by the University of Birmingham (UoB) in collaboration with the University of Auckland (UoA), the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and the International Road Federation (IRF) Geneva.

2. Resilient Sustainable Roads for Ethiopia (2015-2021).

Principal Investigator.

This road research project for the Ethiopian Road Authority (ERA) is addressing the following specific issues:

  • Evaluation of different types of road pavement surfacing (AC, Sprayed seals, Concrete etc.) in terms of resilience to climatic impact via an analysis of life cycle cost benefit
  • Defining and developing appropriate financing and maintenance strategies for Ethiopia’s Road Networks
  • Assessment of causes and remedial measures for road failures in the road network of Ethiopia
  • Development of appropriate recycling technologies for road construction and maintenance in Ethiopia
  • Investigation of the practice domestic contractors in managing risks: Focus on contractors involving in Federal Road Construction Projects 
  • Evaluation of preservation activities on performance of road pavements in Ethiopia terms of life cycle costing

The project is also supporting capacity building and dissemination within the ERA and local universities whereby staff are trained in research focusing on the above areas.

3. Implementation of road asset management system for Gambia National Roads Authority (2018 – 2021).

Principal Investigator.

This research and capacity building project for the Gambian National Roads Authority (GNRA) involves researching, developing and implementing a pavement management system for the GNRA to manage the maintenance of the Gambia’s entire road network. This is allied to developing and delivering a programme of research needs assessment allied to bespoke training in road management and geotechnical engineering for roads. 

4. A Systems Approach to Air Pollution in East Africa (ASAP-East Africa)


ASAP brings together leading UK and East African researchers in air pollution, infrastructure asset management, urban planning, economic geography, public health, social sciences and development studies to provide a framework for improved air quality management in East African cities. This timely and responsive programme of activity will enhance local decision-making abilities to improve urban air quality, reduce the effects of air pollution upon human health, and allow for sustainable development to proceed without further deterioration in air quality. ASAP applies a rigorous approach to diagnosing the integrated urbanisation challenges facing East African cities, with a focus on the development of a holistic diagnosis that places the causes and impacts of air pollution in the context of the city’s interlinked systems. It seeks to address the numerous development issues associated with poor air quality, and initiate a new framework for deconstructing cities, fostering a more liveable and sustainable urbanisation.

5. Knowledge for Development (K4D) (2016-2021)

Infrastructure Theme Lead. 

The £7.5 m K4D FCDO funded project supports learning and the use of evidence to improve the impact of development policy and programmes. The programme is designed to assist FCDO and other partners to be innovative and responsive to rapidly changing and complex development challenges.

The evidence of what works in the challenging and uncertain contexts in which we work is highly complex. Without this evidence, programmes would not be designed for maximum impact and could be poor value for money. K4D provides an integrated approach to linking organisational learning processes with the use of evidence from research.

K4D is implemented by a consortium of leading knowledge institutions based in the UK, led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), with the University of Birmingham, International Development Department (IDD); Education Development Trust; Itad; the University of Leeds, Nuffield Centre for International Health & Development; Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM); and the University of Manchester, Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI).

Railway Asset Management

1. Use of innovative low maintenance materials for drainage components (2020-2021). 

Principal Investigator.

This Network Rail funded research project is developing an innovative drainage product proof of concept based on a synthetic evapotranspiration system.  The research consists of a horizon scan of drainage products and materials, the development of a proof of concept and testing the proof of concept.

2. Railway Track Fixity (2020-21).

Principal investigator.

The project is developing a process, which can be used by Network Rail to provide a track fixity parameter to every profile on the railway network.

To achieve this the project is:

  • Identifying and reviewing the factors which affect track fixity.
  • Gathering a comprehensive data set that includes historical track movement values as a function of the associated factors affecting track fixity.
  • Developing a machine learning based probabilistic tool which can assign track fixity values to individual track profiles.
  • Using and applying the tool to explore the sensitivity of track fixity to the factors affecting track fixity.

Other activities

Recent awards for research and teaching excellence include:

  • 2021 Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) International Award.  As part of a team led by Mott MacDonald in collaboration with the universities of Birmingham and Cape Town
  • 2018 Award for Excellence in Doctoral Research Supervision
  • 2018 Young Rail Professionals – Mentor of the year, runner up
  • 2018 Teaching Innovation Award, The Higher Education Futures institute (HEFi)
  • 2015 Network Rail Partnership Awards Best use of technology and innovation.  Highly commended award, Network Rail, UK
  • 2006 Telford Premium Award, Institution of Civil Engineers, UK


Peer reviewed Journal Publications since 2015

  1. Manu Sasidharan, Michael Burrow, Gurmel Ghataora and Rishi Marathu (in print). Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit.
  2. Wenda Li, Michael Burrow, Nicole Metje, Gurmel Ghataora. (in print). A Study of Point Laser for Automatic Local Road Condition Assessment: Feasibility, Challenges, and Limitations.  IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Magazine. 
  3. Richard Shumbusho, Gurmel S. Ghataora, Michael P.N. Burrow, and Digne R. Rwabuhungu (2021). The Use of Geogrids in Mitigating Pavement Defects on Roads Built over Expansive Soils. Rwanda Journal of Engineering, Science, Technology and Environment, Volume 4, Issue 1, June 2021. DOI: 10.4314/rjeste.v4i1.4.
  4. Worku Asratie Wubet, Michael Burrow & Gurmel Ghataora (2021). Risks affecting the performance of Ethiopian domestic road construction contractors, International Journal of Construction Management, DOI: 10.1080/15623599.2021.1902732. 
  5. Kristianto Usman, Michael P. N. Burrow, Gurmel S. Ghataora, Manu Sasidharan (2021). Using Probabilistic Fault Tree Analysis and Monte Carlo Simulation to Examine the Likelihood of Risks Associated with Ballasted Railway Drainage Failure.  Transportation Research Record (TRR), Journal of the Transportation Research Board. Washington D.C., USA.  doi.org/10.1177/0361198120982310
  6. Petr Kučera, Martin Lidmila, Petr Jasanský, Marek Pýcha, Michael P. N. Burrow, Gurmel S. Ghataora (2021). The feasibility of using asphalt concrete with a high percentage of recycled asphalt material in a railway trackbed layer.  Transportation Geotechnics. Vol. 26. January 2021.
  7. Eskandari Torbaghan, M., Li, W., Metje, N., Burrow, M., Chapman, D. & Rogers, C. (2020). Automated Detection of Cracks in Roads using Ground Penetrating Radar.  Journal of Applied Geophysics. In press.
  8. Wenda Li, Michael Burrow, Nicole Metje, Gurmel Ghataora. (2020). Automatic Road Survey by Using Vehicle Mounted Point Laser for Local Road Management.  IEEE Access. Vol 8.  10.1109/ACCESS.2020.2994470
  9. Wang, G., Burrow, M.P.N., Ghataora, G.S. (2020).  A study of the factors affecting road roughness measurement using smartphones.  Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 26(3). ASCE. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE) IS.1943-555X.0000558.
  10. M. Sasidharan, M., Burrow, M.P.N. and Ghataora, G.S. (2020). Whole Life Cycle Approach under Uncertainty for Economically Justifiable Ballasted Railway Track Maintenance. Research in Transportation Economics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.retrec.2020.100815.
  11. Li, W., Burrow, M.P.N., Metje, N., Tao, Y. and Ghataora, G.S. (2020). A Novel Processing Methodology for Traffic-Speed Road Surveys Using Point Lasers.  IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems. DOI: 10.1109/TITS.2019.2957238.
  12. E. Ngezahayo, M.P.N. Burrow, G.S. Ghataora (2019). The Advances in Understanding Erodibility of Soils in Unpaved Roads. International Journal of Civil Infrastructure, vol. 2(2019): 1-17. Available at www.ijci.avestia.com
  13. E. Ngezahayo, G. Ghataora, M. Burrow (2019). Evaluation of the influence of geotechnical, environmental and road aspects on erodibility of rural roads. International Journal of Latest Engineering and Management Research (IJLEMR, ISSN: 2455-4847), 04 (11): 29-54.
  14. E. Ngezahayo, M. Burrow, G. Ghataora (2019). Rural Roads –roles, challenges and solutions for Sub-Saharan Africa’s sustainable development. International Journal of Latest Engineering and Management Research (IJLEMR, ISSN: 2455-4847), 04 (10): 70-79.
  15. Luiu, C., Tight, M.R. and Burrow, M.P.N. (2019).  An investigation into the factors influencing travel needs during later life.  Journal of Transport & Health. 
  16. Getachew Yilma Debela, Gurmel Ghataora and Michael Burrow (2019). A Case Study on the Problems and Prospects of Output and Performance Based Road Contracting (OPRC) in Ethiopia. International Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 8(1): 7-18. DOI: 10.5923/j.ijcem.20190801.02
  17. Luiu, C., Tight, M.R. and Burrow, M.P.N. (2018).  Factors preventing the use of alternative transport modes to the car in later life. Sustainability 2018, 10, 1982; doi:10.3390/su10061982.
  18. Jabar M. Rasul, Gurmel S. Ghataora and Michael P. N. Burrow (2018). The effect of wetting and drying on the performance of stabilized subgrade soils. Transportation Geotechnics.  Vol. 14 pp 1 -7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trgeo.2017.09.002
  19. Moran, J., Torbaghan, M.E., Burrow, M.P.N. (2017). Estimating the Benefits of Joint Occupation for Street Works.  Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Infrastructure Asset Management. Volume 4 Issue 4, pp. 115-127. https://doi.org/10.1680/jinam.17.00007
  20. Usman, K., Ghataora, G.S., Burrow, M.P.N., Torbaghan, M.E., Wehbi M. and Musgrave P. (2017).  Fault Tree for Poor Drainage Mechanisms of Railway Ballasted Track.  The Journal.  Permanent Way Institution. Vol 135 Part 4.
  21. Burrow, M.P.N., Jin Shi, Wehbi, M. and Ghataora, G.S. (2017).  Assessing the Damaging Effects of Railway Dynamic Wheel Loads on Railway Foundations.  Transportation Research Record (TRR), Journal of the Transportation Research Board. Vol. 2607 Issue 1 pp.  62-73. Washington D.C., USA.
  22. Luiu, C., Tight, M.R. and Burrow, M.P.N. (2017).  The unmet travel needs of the older population: a review of the literature. Transport Reviews.  Vol 37 (4), http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01441647.2016.1252447.
  23. Akena, R., Schmid, F., Burrow, M.P.N. (2017).  Driving Style for Better Fuel Economy.  Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Transport 170 June 2017 Issue TR3, pp 131–139 http://dx.doi.org/10.1680/jtran.15.00116
  24. Torbaghan, M.E., Burrow, M.P.N and Hunt, D.V.L., ElCheikh, M. (2017).  Risk-based framework (RBF) for a UK Pan-European Supergrid.  Energy 124
  25. ElCheikh, M. and Burrow, M.P.N. (2016). Uncertainties in Forecasting Maintenance Costs for Asset Management: Application to an Aging Canal System (2016). ASCE-ASME Journal of Risk and Uncertainty in Engineering Systems, Part A: Civil Engineering.  DOI: 10.1061/AJRUA6.0000890.
  26. Rasul, J., Burrow, M.P.N., Ghataora, G.S. (2016). Consideration of the deterioration of stabilised subgrade soils in analytical pavement design.  Transportation Geotechnics 9 96–109.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.trgeo.2016.08.002
  27. Burrow, M.P.N., Evdorides, H., Ghataora, G.S., Petts, R., Snaith, M.S. (2016). The evidence for rural road technology in low income countries.  Transport. Proceedings Institution of Civil Engineers. http://dx.doi.org/10.1680/jtran.15.00089
  28. Xiaohui Zhang, Burrow, M.P.N, and Shunhua Zhou (2015). An Investigation of Subgrade Differential Settlement on the Dynamic Response of the Vehicle Slab-Track System.  Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit, Part F.  Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  doi:10.1177/0954409715613538
  29. Torbaghan, M.E., Burrow, M.P.N and Hunt, D.V.L. (2015).  Risk assessment for a UK-Pan European Supergrid.  Int. J. Energy Res., 39: 1564–1578. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/er.3365.
  30. Schlotjes, M.R, Burrow, M.P.N, Evdorides, H and Henning T.F.P. (2015). Using SVM to Predict the Probability of Pavement Failure.  168(3) (Pavement engineering themed issue) of Transport. Proceedings Institution of Civil Engineers.  DOI: 10.1680/tran.12.00084.

  1. Burrow, M.P.N, Ghataora, G.S., Roberts, C., Bains, N. and Clarke, M (2009) Technology transfer in railways. Railway Engineering 2009, London, U.K.
  2. Burrow, M.P.N, Ghataora, G.S., Evdorides, H, Gunn, D.A., Reeves, D. A. and Chambers, J. (2009) Design considerations for new freight routes on old Victorian embankments. Railway Engineering 2009, London, U.K. 
  3. Ghataora, G.S. Burrow, M.P.N. (2009). Large scale tests on a lightweight composite manhole chamber to be used adjacent to railway lines. Railway Engineering 2009, London, U.K. 
  4. Ghataora, G.S. Burrow, M.P.N. (2009) Composites at ballast/subgrade interface in railway track foundations. Railway Engineering 2009, London, U.K.
  5. DA Gunn, M Kirkham, E Haslam, J Chambers, A Lacinska, & A Milodowski, G Ghataora, M Burrow, R Sellers & N Dixon (2009). Moisture Measurements in Embankments: Long Term Stability and Ageing. Railway Engineering 2009, London, U.K.

Books and Book Chapters

  1. Ghataora G.S. and Burrow M.P.N. (2010). Railway Foundations. In Geotechnical Engineering Handbook. J. Ross Publishing, Inc
  2. Burrow, M.P, Fonseca Teixeira, P. Tore Dahlberg T. and Berggren E. (2010). Track Stiffness Considerations for High Speed Railway Lines. In Railway Transportation: Policies, Technology and Perspectives. Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

View all publications in research portal