A column generation based approach for the Train Network Design Optimization problem

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, planning - network design, planning - route design


Column generation, Train routing, Block-to-train assignment, Crew-to-train assignment


This paper investigates the Train Network Design Optimization problem arising from railroad industry which involves the integration of three inter-related decision sub-problems: train routing which is to identify origin, destination and itinerary for individual trains; block-to-train assignment detailing the block movements with trains and swaps between trains; and crew-to-train assignment specifying the crew services for train routes. A column generation based hierarchical approach with two stages is designed: the first stage generates a pool of promising train routes iteratively based on the crew segments by the column generation technique; and the second stage develops an integer linear programming model for the subsequent decisions including train route selection and block-to-train assignment. Numerical experiments with realistic test instances are conducted and the outcome demonstrates the capability of the proposed approach in solving the Train Network Design Optimization problem competently.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


Transportation Research Part E Home Page: