Decreasing the Passenger Waiting Time for an Intercity Rail Network

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - interchange/transfer, ridership - commuting, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - rail


Waiting time, Travel costs, Transfers, Timetables, Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Belges, Simulation, Running time, Robustness, Railways, Railroads, Railroad transportation, Rail transportation, Passengers, Passenger trains, NMBS/SNCB (Railroad : Belgium), Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen, National Railway Company of Belgium, Mathematical models, Linear programming, Interurban transportation, Intercity transportation, Computer simulation, Cities, Belgium


To improve the robustness of timetables for a network of passenger train services, this paper seeks to minimize a waiting cost function that includes running time supplements and different types of waiting times and late arrivals. The approach is applied to the whole intercity (IC) network of the Belgian railways. The IC network consists of 14 fast trains connecting all major cities in Belgium. In the first phase of the approach, ideal running time supplements are calculated to safeguard connections when the feeder train is late. These supplements are based on the delay distributions of the trains, the passenger counts and on the weighting of different types of waiting times. In a second phase, continuous Linear Programming (LP) is used to construct an improved timetable with well-scheduled connections and, whenever possible, with ideal running time supplements. Simulation evaluates different timetables and makes further improvement of the LP timetable possible. For the case of the IC network, the final result is a timetable with suitable transfer times and a waiting cost, that is, 40% lower than the current timetable. Since continuous LP modelling is applied, the proposed technique is very promising for developing better timetables – even for very extensive railway networks.


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