Developing a New National Transport Model for the UK

An approximate view of the London Commuter Belt showing commuter towns and the main road and rail links into the city. Urban areas in and around London are grey.

Crown Copyright/CC BY-SA 3.0


The UK Department for Transport uses a National Transport Model (NTM) to provide a systematic means of comparing the national consequences of alternative national transport policies or widely-applied local transport policies.

One of the drawbacks of the current NTM is the lack of spatial detail provided which limits the range of policy applications for which it can be used. The Department therefore requires a new more spatially detailed tool for policy testing.

This new tool will however take time to develop and be more time consuming to operate and generate forecasts. There remains, therefore, a requirement to retain the high level strategic modelling tool that can provide a fast turnaround for national level policy purposes. Therefore, in the short term the existing model without the spatial detail will be updated to use more recent data. This will provide policy capability in the interim while the new detailed model is being developed.


The DfT commissioned RAND Europe, in partnership with Atkins, to update the NTM using current datasets without changing the methodological approach adopted for the modelling tools. The project will also develop a new spatially detailed version of the NTM representing variation in behaviour across socioeconomic groups (NTM V5).


The new NTM will estimate demand models from individual-level choices observed in recent National Travel Survey (NTS) data. These models will include socio-economic segmentations, such as car availability and income, in order to reflect differences in traveller behaviour by these segments. This provides the models with a better understanding of current traveller behaviour, a mechanism to take account of future changes in the distribution of the population over these segments, and an ability to assess the impact of policy on particular segments of the population.

Project Team

James Fox
Bhanu Patruni
Kaveh Jahanshahi