The Co-Development of Land Use and Rail in London

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - 4:00pm

About the Event

This presentation examines the changes that occurred in the rail network and density of population in London during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It aims to disentangle the ”chicken and egg” problem of which came first—network or land development—through a set of statistical analyses clearly distinguishing events by order.

Using panel data representing the 33 boroughs of London over each decade from 1871 to 2001, the research finds that there is a positive feedback effect between population density and network density. Additional rail stations (either underground or surface) are positive factors leading to subsequent increases in population in the suburbs of London, while additional population density is a factor in subsequently deploying more rail. These effects differ in central London, where the additional accessibility produced by rail led to commercial development and concomitant depopulation. There are also few differences in the effects associated with surface rail stations and Underground stations, as the Underground was able to get into central London in a way that surface rail could not.

Lessons for the development of modern cities and deployment of new infrastructure systems will be drawn.


David Levinson, CTS Chair in Transportation Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering.

Richard P. Braun, Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering.