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The usefulness of the application of heuristic algorithms in the transportation model, first proposed by Garver, is analysed in relation to planning for the expansion of transmission systems. The formulation of the mathematical model and the solution techniques proposed in the specialised literature are analysed in detail. Starting with the constructive heuristic algorithm proposed by Garver, an extension is made to the problem of multistage planning for transmission systems. The quality of the solutions found by heuristic algorithms for the transportation model is analysed, as are applications in problems of planning transmission systems.