PhD Position Planning of On-Demand, Rail-Based, Combined Passenger/Freight Mobility Systems

PhD Position Planning of On-Demand, Rail-Based, Combined Passenger/Freight Mobility Systems

Published Deadline Location
11 May 11 Jun Delft

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Are you interested in innovative freight mobility concepts? Then this PhD is what you are looking for!

Job description

In order to ensure the provision of sustainable freight transport, it is essential to increase the market share of rail freight. The emergence of market-ready digital solutions and automation provides a promising foundation for the development of revolutionary mobility concepts, which could transform the way infrastructure is utilized in delivering rail-based mobility services.

The goal of this PhD Project is to design a new system for demand-oriented, customizable, and energy efficient rail-based transport service for freight. The new technology, that is the starting point for the study, consists of small automated rail cars (pods) used for both passengers and freight, which can move independently as well as coupled into trains. In combination, the size of pods and their mixed use allow for the necessary flexibility to provide high service levels at acceptable costs. You will develop models and solution algorithms to help design the integrated operating system for handling, positioning, routing and dispatching of pods. The challenge is to optimize the system at the intersection of on-demand planning, (modular) fleet management and vehicle routing, considering a mixture of freight and passenger demand, using intelligent and decentralized algorithms.  

For addressing this challenge, we are offering a fully funded PhD position in line with the European Project, PoDs4Rail.  The position is embedded at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Transport planning department, Freight Transport and Logistics Lab, TU Delft (Freight Transport & Logistics (  


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


You are a highly motivated and enthusiastic researcher (F/M) with the ambition to conduct high-quality interdisciplinary research. You enjoy thinking out-of-the-box and are highly innovative. In addition,

  • You have an MSc degree in Mathematics, Operations research, Computer science, Industrial, Transportation Engineering, or a related field with sufficient background in optimization and mathematical modeling;
  • You are familiar with the field of railway operation, intermodal freight transport, fleet management, and related fields;
  • You have a keen interest in technical thinking, scientific research in close cooperation with practice, learning new tools and are skilled in programming languages (preferably python);
  • A background in AI and reinforcement learning is a plus.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource availability, urbanisation and clean water. Our research projects are conducted in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced of the importance of open science and supports its scientists in integrating open science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD03887


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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