Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - track, land use - planning, economics - operating costs, mode - rail


Tracks, Track rehabilitation, Track maintenance, Track degradation, Strategies, Strategic planning, Simulation, Railroad tracks, Rail maintenance, Priorities, Operating costs, Objectives, Mathematical models, Maintenance of way, Goals, Cost of operation, Computer simulation, Australia


In Australian rail freight operations, railway track maintenance makes up between 25% and 35% of total train operating costs. Models have shown that track maintenance costs can be reduced by 5% to 10% through improved planning. The Track Maintenance Planning Model (TMPM) has been developed to deal with the track maintenance planning function in the medium to long term. In contrast to traditional models, which mainly use expert systems, TMPM simulates the impacts of railway track conditions and related maintenance work by using an existing track degradation model. Track condition data from that model are used to determine whether safety-related speed restrictions are needed and what immediate maintenance work may be required for safe train operation. TMPM outputs the net present value of the financial benefits of undertaking a given maintenance strategy compared with a base-case maintenance scenario. This approach has an advantage over current models in investigating what-if scenarios. The track engineer can assess the possible benefits of reduced operating costs from upgrading track infrastructure or from improving maintenance equipment. Track maintenance and train operating costs also can be simulated over time. The results of applying the model to a test track section using several different maintenance strategies are presented.