A Proposed Methodology for Measuring the Sustainability of the Location of Dry Ports Using Bayesian Networks and Multicriteria Decision Analysis

A Proposed Methodology for Measuring the Sustainability of the Location of Dry Ports Using Bayesian Networks and Multicriteria Decision Analysis

Nominated for The Planning for Sustainable Land Use and Transport Award


Samir Awad Núñez, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Francisco Soler Flores, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Alberto Camarero Orive, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid


The objective of this research is to provide an assessment methodology capable to evaluate the sustainability of the location of dry ports by using Multicriteria Decision Analysis, Bayesian Networks and Geographic Information Systems.


The global economic structure, with its decentralized production and the consequent increase in freight traffic all over the world, creates considerable problems and challenges for the freight transport sector. This situation has led shipping to become the most suitable and cheapest way to transport goods. Thus, ports are configured as nodes with critical importance in the logistics supply chain as a link between two transport systems, sea and land. Increase in activity at seaports is producing three undesirable effects: increasing road congestion, lack of open space in port installations and a significant environmental impact on seaports. These adverse effects can be mitigated by moving part of the activity inland. Implementation of dry ports is a possible solution and would also provide an opportunity to strengthen intermodal solutions as part of an integrated and more sustainable transport chain, acting as a link between road and railway networks. In this sense, implementation of dry ports allows the separation of the links of the transport chain, thus facilitating the shortest possible routes for the lowest capacity and most polluting means of transport.
Thus, the decision of where to locate a dry port demands a thorough analysis of the whole logistics supply chain, with the objective of transferring the largest volume of goods possible from road to more energy efficient means of transport, like rail or short sea shipping, that are less harmful to the environment.
However, the decision of where to locate a dry port must also ensure the sustainability of the site. Thus, the main goal of this article is to research the variables influencing the sustainability of dry port location and how this sustainability can be evaluated.
With this objective, in this paper we present a methodology for assessing the sustainability of locations by the use of Multicriteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) and Bayesian Networks (BNs). MCDA is used as a way to establish a scoring, whilst BNs were chosen to eliminate arbitrariness in setting the weightings using a technique that allows us to prioritize each variable according to the relationships established in the set of variables. In order to determine the relationships between all the variables involved in the decision, giving us the importance of each factor and variable, we built a K2 BN algorithm. To obtain the scores of each variable, we used a complete cartography analysed by ArcGIS.
Recognising that setting the most appropriate location to place a Dry Port is a geographical multidisciplinary problem, with significant economic, social and environmental implications, we consider 41 variables (grouped into 17 factors) which respond to this need.
As a case of study, the sustainability of all of the 10 existing dry ports in Spain has been evaluated. In this set of logistics platforms, we found that the most important variables for achieving sustainability are those related to environmental protection, so the sustainability of the locations requires a great respect for the natural environment and the urban environment in which they are framed.


Association for European Transport