What is this research stream?

High-quality international transport connectivity is a National Strategic Outcome under the National Development Plan (NDP) published in October 2021 and is critical for regional competitiveness and economic growth. The NDP specifically identifies the strategic importance of strengthening surface connectivity to ports and airports in the North-West of the island.

The research stream contributes to our understanding of the dependency of the West and North region on the various transport and logistics routes and modes available, and the determinants of mode and route choice for international freight transport movements, including rail connectivity and the potential of Foyle Port. The project also evaluates the overall implications for regional competitiveness caused by increasing congestion at nodes and the subsequent reduction in accessibility to international markets.

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What's Involved?

The region currently contains no State airports or Tier 1 or Tier 2 ports, which results in a significant lack of international freight connectivity in the North-West. International connectivity can be further hampered by Brexit and disruptions in the global supply chain, potentially increasing freight transit times to the nearest port or airport. Significant increases in freight transport costs will be experienced by exporters and importers on both sides of the border if companies are no longer able to access ports or airports in Northern Ireland (NI) or to efficiently use the road network in NI to access a port or airport elsewhere in the Republic of Ireland (ROI).

This research stream:

  • Explores international freight transport connectivity in the North-West of the island and contributes to our understanding of the determinants of mode and route choice for international freight transport movements in the region, incorporating work on rail connectivity and the potential of Foyle Port.
  • Assesses the overall implications for regional competitiveness of increasing congestion at nodes and the consequent reduction in accessibility to international markets.
  • Aligns with the National Planning Framework (NPF), the Northern and Western Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy, and The Shared Island initiative.
  • Specifically contributes to Objective 46 of the NPF regarding the co-operation with relevant Departments in NI to enhance transport connectivity between ROI and NI by road, rail, and air.
  • Aligns with the European Commission Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and Horizon Europe Cluster 5 Destination 6 on the promotion of efficient and effective multimodal freight transport systems that increase flexibility, service visibility and reduce the average cost of freight transport. Transport Infrastructure is considered a key component for sustainable economic development.
  • Contributes to SDG 8 by facilitating domestic and international trade in the region.
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Who is Involved?

Dr Amaya Vega, ATU Galway Image

Dr Amaya Vega, ATU Galway

Amaya Vega is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the School of Business, Atlantic Technological University in Galway City. Amaya was awarded a Ph.D. in Transport Economics from University College Dublin and she also holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and Management degree (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain), MA in Economics degree (University College Dublin). Amaya has over 20 years’ experience in academia. Prior to her current position, she held the position of Research Fellow in Economics at University of Galway. During her doctoral studies, Amaya was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds. Prior to academia, Amaya worked in the freight transport industry in Spain.

Amaya’s research interests include transport and regional economics and policy, maritime economics, and ports. Amaya’s research is multidisciplinary with a dedicated presence of international collaborators. Currently, she is an Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of International Economics at the University of Valencia, Spain.  Amaya has over 35 publications in leading international peer-reviewed ABS rated journals such as Transport Policy, Transportation Research Part A – Policy and Practice, Case Studies on Transport Policy, Research in Transportation Economics, Maritime Business Review, and Marine Policy. Amaya has also published chapters in internationally published books and has presented at numerous international conferences.

Dr Brian McCann, ATU Sligo Image

Dr Brian McCann, ATU Sligo

Dr Brian McCann is a lecturer in Civil Engineering and Transportation at ATU Sligo with 28 years of lecturing, programme development and research experience.

Brian has a BEng Hons and PhD from Queen’s University Belfast and over 30 years of diverse academic, research and industry expertise in transportation engineering, planning and policy. He is programme chair of the EI accredited MEng in Road and Transport Engineering at ATU Sligo and developed and delivers core modules and research dissertations.

He engages with Sligo Chamber, WDC, AEC, local authorities and NWRA on road infrastructure, transport planning & development, and sustainable and active travel projects.

He is Vice-Chair of Irish Transport Research Network (ITRN) and Board of Civil Engineering Research Association of Ireland (CERAI) Board and has co-organised ITRN conferences at UL (2021) and ATU Sligo (2023).

He has supervised MEng, MSc and PhD research, currently PI for two PhD students, and involved in collaborative research projects with TCD, UoG, UU and ATU Galway.

He has published over 20 peer-reviewed journal, industry and conference papers. Dr McCann is currently a member of the inaugural Governing Body of the Atlantic Technological University.

Dr Trevor Cadden, Ulster University Image

Dr Trevor Cadden, Ulster University

Professor Trevor Cadden is a Professor in Operations Management at the University of Ulster and a Visiting Professor as Ajman University, United Arab Emirates. Trevor is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Fellow of Centre of Higher Education and Research Practice and a Certified Management & Business Educator (CMBE) with the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS). Trevor has won numerous awards for teaching and research excellence.

Trevor has considerable experience in Supply Chain Management and Operations Management.  His experience working for many years in US multinationals in supply chain systems implementation, project management, inventory control and management, and performance measurement has provided a fundamental platform for his career in academia.

Trevor is regularly involved in a range of supply chain projects across sectors based on his knowledge of supply chain and operations management and regularly supports trade and government organisations in developing supply chain policies. Trevor’s research has been published in journals such as the International Journal of Operations Management, Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, International Journal of Production Economics, International Journal of Information Management and the International Journal of Production Research.

Chethaka Gamage, ATU Galway Image

Chethaka Gamage, ATU Galway

Chethaka Gamage is a researcher with a passion for transport and logistics planning and supply chain operations. With an MBA from the Postgraduate Institute of Management, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka, and a BSc Hons in Transport and Logistics Management from the Faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa ,Sri Lanka, he brings a blend of academic rigor and practical expertise to his work.

In his professional journey, he has accumulated over five years of experience in supply chain functions, specializing in sustainability, enterprise risk management, and strategic sourcing. His tenure spans into diverse industries such as transportation and logistics, leisure and hospitality, retail services, and consumer food, providing a comprehensive understanding of supply chain dynamics across different sectors.

Additionally, he has served as a visiting lecturer in Global Supply Chain Management and Sustainable Operations Management modules at ICBT University, Sri Lanka affiliated to Cardiff Metropolitan University ,UK, sharing his insights and experiences with the next generation learners of supply chain management.

His research interests are broad, encompassing optimized logistic models, multimodal transport, supply chain optimization, risk management, sustainability, and digitization.



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