Proactive Recovery from Rail Disruptions Through Provision of Track Crossovers and Bus Bridging

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - rail, place - australasia, economics - operating costs, economics - appraisal/evaluation, operations - performance


rail service disruptions, Melbourne, crossovers, bus services, scale, costs, benefits, passenger and operator impacts, savings


This paper explores the importance of providing track crossovers in addressing the issue of replacement bus services in response to unplanned rail service disruptions by using a case study in Melbourne, Australia. Crossovers determine the point from which rail replacement bus services can operate and thus are critical in determining the scale, costs, and benefits of rail disruption management. Despite research evidence that provision for crossovers is important in managing rail disruption, the research literature gives little guidance concerning how it can be achieved and what the relative costs and benefits of providing crossovers are. Theoretical modeling evaluated passenger and operator impacts of alternative crossover plans for a case study of unplanned service disruptions on a suburban rail line in Melbourne. Results showed that an additional crossover reduced user rail disruption costs by 78% to 96%, while bus hire costs were reduced by 63% to 93%. Results suggested that only a few rail disruptions annually would make the provision of track crossovers financially viable on the basis of savings in rail replacement bus service costs. Research found that locating ‘crossovers as close as possible to areas of major disruption provided the most benefits for users and operators. Sensitivity tests showed that even with significantly lower ridership and a lower frequency of disruption, the addition of crossovers was financially positive and generated substantial user benefits. All highlighted results are with respect to the one suburban rail line under analysis. Provision of additional track crossovers appears to be a highly positive means of reducing costs and improving services. However, research indicates that crossovers can cause disruption on some rail systems, and this factor needs to be considered in rail planning.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.