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Infrastructure Resilience Conference 2018

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Criticality of Interdependent Infrastructure Networks: Applications for Rail Transport and Power Distribution

Critical infrastructure provides essential services, sustaining social and economic wellbeing. Infrastructures must continue to function under increased stress, coping with a growing demand for services within design and capacity limitations, as well as mechanical breakdowns and external shocks. An emerging management problem is the increasing connectivity and interdependent nature of infrastructures, either through the co-location of assets or service dependencies. Should a strategically important asset fail, there is the potential for widespread degradation of service across multiple connected networks. Therefore, there is a need to identify critical elements within infrastructure networks and the failure pathways that may result in cascades of failure between interdependent networks.

Rail infrastructure has a dependency upon a power distribution system for a supply of electricity in order to maintain a continuous and reliable service. Using a case study approach, novel industry data and information sources are utilised in order to identify individual asset dependencies for the traction feeder system of the Cross City rail line, a heavily utilised suburban line in the West Midlands, UK. Service performance metrics for both the rail line and the local power distribution network are then used to undertake an interdependent network criticality assessment, identifying and mapping locations with the greatest potential to cause widespread service disruption should an incident occur.

It is demonstrated that a single-network criticality assessment does not adequately represent the vulnerabilities presented by the connected network. A disaggregated and data-driven methodology is required to overcome assumptions on network topology and determine asset dependencies at the local scale, in order to promote a systems approach to defining network priorities. With limited network management budgets, the research can be applied to inform targeted and efficient resource allocation for the twin challenges of longer-term asset renewals and day-to-day incident response, prioritising locations with the greatest risk to system-wide service performance. For a more complete systems approach to network criticality, cross-network fault reporting and service performance metrics are recommended.

Simon Hodgkinson
University of Birmingham
United Kingdom

Andrew Quinn
University of Birmingham
United Kingdom

Lee Chapman
University of Birmingham
United Kingdom

David Jaroszweski
University of Birmingham
United Kingdom

 

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