Optimization Models and Solution Algorithms for Freight Routing Planning Problem in the Multi-Modal Transportation Networks: A Review of the State-of-the-Art

Yan Sun*, 1, 2, Maoxiang Lang*, 1, 2, Danzhu Wang2
1 School of Traffic and Transportation, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, P.R. Chin
2 MOE Key Laboratory for Urban Transportation Complex Systems Theory and Technology, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, P.R. China

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© 2015 Sun et al;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Beijing Jiaotong University, No. 3 Shangyuancun, Haidian District, Beijing, P. R. China 100044; Tel: 86-10-51684152; E-mails:,


With the remarkable development of international trade, global commodity circulation has grown significantly. To accomplish commodity circulation among various regions and countries, multi-modal transportation scheme has been widely adopted by a large number of companies. Meanwhile, according to the relevant statistics, the international logistics costs reach up to approximate 30-50% of the total production cost of the companies. Lowering the transportation costs has become one of the most important sources for a company to raise profits and maintain competitiveness in the global market. Thus, how to optimize freight routes selection to move commodities through the multi-modal transportation network has gained great concern of both the decision makers of the companies and the multi-modal transport operators. In this study, we present a systematical review on the multi-modal transportation freight routing planning problem from the aspects of model formulation and algorithm design. Following contents are covered in this review: (1) distinguishing the formulation characteristics of various optimization models; (2) identifying the optimization models in recent studies according to the formulation characteristics; and (3) discussing the solution approaches that are developed to solve the optimization models, especially the heuristic algorithms.

Keywords: Freight routing planning problem, multi-modal transportation, optimization models, formulation characteristics, heuristic algorithms.