Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Transportation Research Centre

Our vision is to be an international leader in transportation engineering research, by developing best practice in the planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of transport systems.

Busy freeway at night with reflecting lights

Welcome to the Transportation Research Centre

The University of Auckland's Transportation Research Centre (TRC) is dedicated to conducting research that covers all aspects of Transportation Engineering. We cover a broad range of research areas, from road construction materials and infrastructure asset management, to traffic studies and public transport.

Our aim is to provide a vibrant and innovative research hub for both academic and commercial research in Transportation Engineering in New Zealand. We bring together multidisciplinary expertise from Engineering, Science and Business faculties and since our inception in 2008, have  grown to include over 35 staff and postgraduate students.

Our centre has extensive collaborative ties with local government, industry and commercial interests, as well as with many international research institutes.

Over the years we’ve analysed, supported and improved transportation and road practices across New Zealand. The TRC have a respected reputation for transportation research throughout the world and strong collaborative ties with international research centres.

With the addition of our first laboratory in the world-class facilities at Newmarket Campus, we are poised and ready to provide long term, practical and budget-efficient solutions for industry. We provide a comprehensive range of testing capabilities, specialised equipment and software.




train tunnel with sunset

Transportation infrastructure is as critical part of New Zealand’s future and the TRC is committed to providing superior academic and commercial research outcomes.

The TRC are the driving force behind integrating innovation, research and commercial intelligence into transportation engineering in New Zealand.

As the leading centre for transportation research and collaboration in the country, the TRC works with industry to develop and implement novel and innovative solutions and technology for transportation- related problems.

Message from the Director

TRC Director Dr Theuns Henning

TRC Director Dr Theuns Henning

Transportation and transportation infrastructure all over the world is facing tremendous pressures and challenges. This is only going to continue in the coming decades. Problems include: burgeoning population growth, changing demographics, growing car ownership, congested motorways and depleted infrastructure. These are issues that vex urban planners, transportation engineers and citizens alike.

Simply put, we urgently need better roads and efficient transport systems in order to maintain and grow our society’s socio-economic capabilities. At the same time, as a nation we possess less money to pay for infrastructure, and a diminished workforce of qualified and ticketed construction workers.

The University of Auckland is rated among the best engineering faculties in the world. The Transportation Research Centre are responsible local, national and international levels for  mitigating against these challenges and provide solid, cost-effective and rigorously tested transportation solutions.

The team at the TRC all have strong industry experience and solid commercial links. Our ongoing collaborations with the contracting and consulting industry means that we continually attract top engineering researchers from across the world. We are committed to resolving the transportation challenges of tomorrow, today.

Cars and buses in Auckland on the roads

Industry/research collaborations

Our research

Transportation engineering aims to ensure the safe and efficient movement of people and goods by land, sea, and air. This encompasses planning, design, construction, maintenance and operations of transport systems, including their economic, social and environmental impact. Sound management of our transport infrastructure is crucial to the continued economic growth of New Zealand and particularly important in the Auckland region where existing transport is struggling to cope with the ever increasing demand.

The transportation research team have a wide range of funded road and transport research projects. The primary research activities of this team include the management of the road and rail assets, including safety and environmental aspects, and the development of models to assist in understanding their performance. Recent and ongoing research has focussed on the following:

  • Calibration of pavement performance models on the New Zealand State Highway network and, where necessary, the development of new model forms.
  • Analysis and modelling of road pavement skid resistance.
  • Development of a deterioration model for the New Zealand rail network, with the long-term goal of enabling whole of life costing of the rail asset.
  • Modelling the effects of traffic congestion on fuel consumption and vehicle emissions.
  • Prediction of crashes at roundabouts.
  • Improved multi-lane roundabout design for cyclists.


Britomart, Auckland

Industry collaborations

The Transportation Research Centre has led a broad range of collaborations with industry in the past. The primary research activities at TRC include, but are not limited to:

  • The management of the road and rail assets
  • Traffic engineering
  • Traffic safety
  • Driver behaviour
  • Public transport operations planning
  • Road pricing
  • Environmental studies
  • Optimisation studies
Bike lane in Amsterdam

Ongoing research collaborations

  • Microscopic traffic data collection using instrumented vehicles.
  • Experimental analysis of car following dynamics and traffic stability.
  • Performance evaluation of microscopic traffic flow models.
  • Modal choices with discrete choice models.
  • Locating and monetising Park-and-Ride facilities.
  • Analysis of travel time and traffic capacity as a part of transportation network design.
  • Developing a model for public transport with flexible routes based on distributed computing.
  • Optimising public transport scheduling processes using multiple vehicle types.
  • Comparable studies that measure traffic flow and safety characteristics.
  • The calibration of pavement performance models on the New Zealand State Highway network.
  • Bridge technology and bridge management system optimisation.  Analysis and modelling of road pavement skid resistance.
  • Crash reduction and prevention.
  • The development of a deterioration model for the New Zealand rail network.
  • Improving pavement and rehabilitation design and material use.
  • Modelling the effects of traffic congestion on fuel consumption and vehicle emissions.
  • The prediction of crashes at roundabouts.
  • Improved multi-lane roundabout design for cyclists.  



Find out more about transportation research and the specific academics and research students along with their fields of research interest.

Sachi Kodippily

Research Collaboration with the NZTA 2015

Dr Sachi Kodippily (The University of Auckland)

Research topic: Improving the Life of Our Roads – Reducing Moisture Damage of New Zealand’s Road Pavements

CT scanning technology has been put to novel use at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Engineering in research aimed at improving the state of the nation’s roads.

Dr Sachi Kodippily of the faculty’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has been awarded a Rutherford Foundation New Zealand Postdoctoral Fellowship to look at the effects of water on chip seal. Chip seal is the most common surface used on New Zealand’s roads.

The research will be the first of its kind in the world. The research will be conducted in collaboration with New Zealand Transport Agency and the University of Canterbury.

As a sparsely populated country, New Zealand relies on a robust road network to allow safe and efficient movement of people and freight, as well as to support economic growth and productivity.

While chip seal pavements provides a low cost surfacing type for roads with low traffic volumes, the increase in traffic volumes and the challenging New Zealand geological terrain, negatively affects the performance of the chip seal. A particular problem relates to how water penetrates chip sealed roads, this is a big contributor to early road failure.

To address this question, Dr Kodippily will use a new state of the art facility in Christchurch, the Canterbury Accelerated Pavement Testing Indoor Facility, equipped with cutting edge x-ray analysis techniques, to test water penetration in different types of road seals under a range of different conditions.

The studies will help identify the causes for early failures in chip sealed roads, investigate improvements that can be made to the management of roads to minimise moisture damage, and propose improvements that can be made in the design and choice of materials used for New Zealand roads.



A night view over Grafton freeway overpass in Auckland

The TRC has invested in high quality transportation and traffic research facilities, laboratories and equipment.

The TRC have physical and virtual facilities that include equipment and software to analyses the interface between the driver, road and vehicle. The TRC are also in possession of equipment that examines pavement performance; pavement skid resistance and traffic signal performance and the visualisation of traffic control movements on Auckland’s motorways, streets and bridges.

The TRC is currently in the process of expanding its equipment and software to include a Driving Simulator, Geographical Information System (GIS), Optimization software, and a Pavement Materials Laboratory in collaboration with EDI Downer Works.

The Data Visualisation Laboratory is part of University of Auckland's Transport research study. This high-end lab has connectivity across the globe. The laboratory has extensive video conferencing facilities as well as computing facilities capable of doing detailed transportation simulations. This lab will also be negotiating connectivity for data across various other entities including NZTA, CAPTIF and other research entities.