Simulation of Urban Rail Operations: Application Framework

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - vehicle, ridership - commuting, place - urban, mode - rail


Transit vehicle operations, Simulation, Real time control, Rail transit, Computer simulation, Case studies, Calibration, Calibrating, Automatic data collection systems


Simulation models of urban rail operations are valuable tools for analysis of the operations of complex rail transit systems. A framework is presented for the application of rail simulation that includes calibration, validation, evaluation methodology, and interpretation of results. Methods that can be used at each step to facilitate the application are discussed. In particular, approaches are presented for calibration of model parameters and inputs, such as dynamic arrival and alighting rates at stations. Application of simulation tools can be greatly enhanced by the use of train circuit occupancy data collected by automated control systems. A new rail simulation model, SimMetro, specifically designed for service performance analysis taking into account the major sources of uncertainty in operations, is also presented. A case study is used to illustrate the applicability of the proposed framework in testing alternative real-time control strategies.