First-order traffic flow models incorporating capacity drop: Overview and real-data validation

Maria Kontorinaki, Anastasia Spiliopoulou, Claudio Roncoli, Markos Papageorgiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


First-order traffic flow models of the LWR (Lighthill-Whitham-Richards) type are known for their simplicity and computational efficiency and have, for this reason, been widely used for various traffic engineering tasks. However, these first-order models are not able to reproduce significant traffic phenomena of great interest, such as the capacity drop and stop-and-go waves. This paper presents an overview of modeling approaches, which introduce the ability to reflect the capacity-drop phenomenon into discretized LWR-type first-order traffic flow models; and also proposes a new approach. The background and main characteristics of each approach are analyzed with particular emphasis on the practical applicability of such models for traffic simulation, management and control. The presented modeling approaches are tested and validated using real data from a motorway network in the U.K.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52 - 75
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Capacity drop
  • First-order traffic flow models
  • LWR model
  • Model calibration

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