Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - scheduling, infrastructure - station, planning - methods, mode - bus, mode - rail


Trade off analysis, Scheduling, Railroad stations, Railroad platforms, Heuristic methods, Costs, Constraints, Comparison studies, Alternatives analysis, Algorithms


Busy multi-platform railroad stations with multiple in-lines and out-lines present a special challenge in train planning and scheduling. In this paper, the authors develop constraints and objectives for this problem, but these are too computationally complex to solve by standard combinatorial search or integer programming methods. The problem also involves multiple train operators with conflicting interests. To overcome these problems, the authors develop scheduling heuristics analogous to those successfully adopted by train planners using manual methods. The model and algorithms are tested by applying them to a typical large, complex station. The results are comparable to traditional methods, but also take into account cost and preference trade-offs not handled by those methods. With successive refinements, the algorithm eventually took only a few seconds to run. The scheduling models and algorithms developed and tested here can be used on their own, or as key components for a more general system for train scheduling for a rail line or network. Train scheduling for a busy station includes ensuring that there are no conflicts between the trains entering and leaving the station while ensuring that each train is allowed at least its minimum required headway, dwell time, turnaround time and trip time. Train scheduling also involves minimizing costs of deviations from desired times, platforms or lines, as well as allowing for conflicts and possible infrastructure, safety or business policy constraints.


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