Optimizing train operational plan in an urban rail corridor based on the maximum headway function

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, mode - rail, operations - scheduling, operations - frequency, economics - operating costs, planning - service level, planning - travel demand management


Urban rail corridor, Train operational plan, Maximum headway function, Time-varying demand, Optimization algorithm


The train operational plan (TOP) plays a crucial role in the efficient and effective operation of an urban rail system. We optimize the train operational plan in a special network layout, an urban rail corridor with one terminal yard, by decomposing it into two sub-problems, i.e., the train departure profile optimization and the rolling stock circulation optimization. The first sub-problem synthetically optimizes frequency setting, timetabling and the rolling stock circulation at the terminal without a yard. The maximum headway function is generated to ensure the service of the train operational plan without considering travel demand, then we present a model to minimize the number of train trips, and design a heuristic algorithm to maximize the train headway. On the basis of a given timetable, the rolling stock circulation optimization only involves the terminal with a yard. We propose a model to minimize the number of trains and yard–station runs, and an algorithm to find the optimal assignment of train-trip pair connections is designed. The computational complexities of the two algorithms are both linear. Finally, a real case study shows that the train operational plan developed by our approach enables a better match of train headway and travel demand, and reduces the operational cost while satisfying the requirement of the level of service.


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


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