Subloop-based reversal of port rotation directions for container liner shipping network alteration

Jingxu Chen, Shuai Jia, Shuaian Wang, Zhiyuan Liu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Container liner shipping network alteration is a practical manner of shipping network design, which aims to make minor modifications to ameliorate the existing network. In a generic liner shipping network with butterfly ports, each ship route is separated into a set of subloops on the basis of its structure and internal butterfly ports. Reversing the subloop directions has an impact on the network-wide cost including inventory cost, transshipment cost, and slot-purchasing cost. This paper proposes a new destination-based nonlinear model for the subloop-based reversal of port rotation directions with the objective of minimizing the overall network-wide cost. We prove that the addressed problem is NP-hard. Next, the model is transformed to an equivalent mixed-integer linear programming model. Based on the structure of the reformulated model, we develop a Benders decomposition (BD) algorithm and a metaheuristic method to solve practical-size instances. Three acceleration strategies are incorporated into the BD algorithm, which are adding Pareto-optimal cuts, updating big-M coefficients and generating combinatorial Benders cuts. Case studies based on three small examples and an Asia-Europe-Oceania liner shipping network with a total of 46 ports are conducted. Results show that the problem could be efficiently solved by the accelerated BD algorithm and the optimization of subloop directions is conducive to decreasing the network-wide cost especially the inventory cost.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-361
Number of pages26
JournalTransportation Research Part B: Methodological
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Benders decomposition
  • Container shipping
  • Liner shipping network alteration
  • Mixed-integer linear programming
  • Port rotation direction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation


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