Trends, Topics, Leaders, Influential Studies, and Future Challenges of Machine Learning Studies in the Rail Industry

Gunwoo Yong, Ghang Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This study reviewed the status quo of research on machine learning (ML), including deep learning, in the rail industry. This study conducted a scientometric analysis and critical review of 640 papers selected from 12,675 web-crawled papers. The extensive and complex networks of topics, researchers, and countries were analyzed using the Louvain method, a co-occurrence keyword analysis, a degree centrality analysis, and other network analysis methods. The results indicate that the majority of studies of ML in the rail industry focused on maintenance activities and traffic management, and mainly targeted rolling stock, rails, and passengers. Overhead contact systems, including catenaries, are a high-demand objective for ML-based maintenance. Although analyses of tunnels and stations remain rare, passenger flow prediction, station air quality estimation, shield tunneling performance improvement, and ground settlement are areas of high importance. Geographically, China, the US, and the United Kingdom lead ML studies in the rail industry, and the level of collaboration is higher among European countries than among countries on other continents. Future challenges include ensuring the security and stability of ML, along with considering novel mindsets, the black-box effect, improvements in ML techniques, and resource overload when introducing ML technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number03122001
JournalJournal of Infrastructure Systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Society of Civil Engineers.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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