Tabu assisted guided local search approaches for freight service network design

Ruibin Bai, Graham Kendall, Rong Qu, Jason A.D. Atkin

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


The service network design problem (SNDP) is a core problem in freight transportation. It involves the determination of the most cost-effective transportation network and the characteristics of the corresponding services, subject to various constraints. The scale of the problem in real-world applications is usually very large, especially when the network contains both the geographical information and the temporal constraints which are necessary for modelling multiple service-classes and dynamic events. The development of time-efficient algorithms for this problem is, therefore, crucial for successful real-world applications. Earlier research indicated that guided local search (GLS) was a promising solution method for this problem. One of the advantages of GLS is that it makes use of both the information collected during the search as well as any special structures which are present in solutions. Building upon earlier research, this paper carries out in-depth investigations into several mechanisms that could potentially speed up the GLS algorithm for the SNDP. Specifically, the mechanisms that we have looked at in this paper include a tabu list (as used by tabu search), short-term memory, and an aspiration criterion. An efficient hybrid algorithm for the SNDP is then proposed, based upon the results of these experiments. The algorithm combines a tabu list within a multi-start GLS approach, with an efficient feasibility-repairing heuristic. Experimental tests on a set of 24 well-known service network design benchmark instances have shown that the proposed algorithm is superior to a previously proposed tabu search method, reducing the computation time by over a third. In addition, we also show that far better results can be obtained when a faster linear program solver is adopted for the sub-problem solution. The contribution of this paper is an efficient algorithm, along with detailed analyses of effective mechanisms which can help to increase the speed of the GLS algorithm for the SNDP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-281
Number of pages16
JournalInformation Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2012


  • Freight transportation
  • Guided local search
  • Linear programming
  • Logistics
  • Service network design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Artificial Intelligence


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