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Applications of Combinatorial Optimization, 2nd Edition by Vangelis Th. Paschos

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Chapter 5

Operations Research and Goods Transportation

Chapter written by Teodor Gabriel CRAINIC and Frédéric SEMET.

5.1. Introduction

Transport, and goods transport in particular, constitutes a vital component of human society. Whether in relation to economic, social, cultural or other activities, we find the “transport” dimension among the elements essential to their fulfillment. At the economic level, transport activities are responsible for an important part of the gross national product of a country (in the order of 10%), while the cost of transport contributes significantly to the final selling price of various products and services (in the order of 10% to 15%). Transport is also responsible for a significant proportion of greenhouse gas emissions and, more generally, of environmental pollution, without forgetting the chronic levels of congestion that most nations are confronted with in transport infrastructures.

The economic and social trends observed throughout the world point towards a continuous and strong increase in the transport levels. In the case of goods transport, this tendency is seen at all levels, from international trade to local delivery in a neighborhood. This phenomenon is accompanied by increased demands for fast, reliable, safe and inexpensive transport activities. This group of factors strongly emphasizes the importance of appropriate planning and management of transport activities and systems.

There is a long tradition of fruitful exchanges between operations ...

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