Train Delay and Railway Line Capacity Under Combinations of Structured and Flexible Operations

Many rail corridors are experiencing a transition from bulk freight trains operating on flexible schedules that maximize efficiency and economies of scale, to passenger, commuter and premium intermodal services that require more structured operations with fixed arrival and departure times. Although these premium trains receive higher priority, maintaining the schedule flexibility of bulk freight trains while simultaneously providing the precision and level of service required by passenger and intermodal trains presents a substantial operational challenge on the predominantly single-track North American rail network. The objective of this research is to investigate the behavior of routes with combinations of trains exhibiting differing amounts of terminal departure time variability, ranging from precise schedules to complete flexibility. This research seeks to characterize the relationship between the mixture of scheduled and flexible trains operating on a rail corridor, the amount of schedule flexibility in the train departure and running times, and the level of service (train delay) experienced by each of the different types of trains. This research is conducted via simulation of a representative North American single-track corridor with Rail Traffic Controller (RTC) software. RTC is used to quantify the delay caused by the various mixtures of structured and flexible trains on the corridor. To serve as a baseline condition for a given train volume and single-track infrastructure layout, a structured cyclic train schedule is developed that minimizes delay under structured (entirely scheduled) operations. Simulation scenarios are then created by incrementally replacing scheduled trains with trains on flexible schedules to quantify the train delay response. The experiment design also considers various relative levels of schedule flexibility for each combination of scheduled and flexible trains (or “traffic mixture”), traffic volume and amount of second track to evaluate both train delay and line capacity under different operating realms.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Contract Numbers:



    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

      University Transportation Centers Program
      Department of Transportation
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Principal Investigators:

      Dick, Tyler

    • Start Date: 20160815
    • Expected Completion Date: 20190831
    • Actual Completion Date: 0

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01613510
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: National University Rail Center (NURail)
    • Contract Numbers: NURail2014-UIUC-R16, DTRT13-G-UTC52
    • Files: UTC, RiP
    • Created Date: Oct 20 2016 3:26PM