Automated real-time railway traffic control: an experimental analysis of reliability, resilience and robustness

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, operations - scheduling, operations - reliability, technology - intelligent transport systems


Reliability, robustness, railway traffic, scheduling, Closed Loop control


Railway transportation provides sustainable, fast and safe transport. Its attractiveness is linked to a broad concept of service reliability: the capability to adhere to a timetable in the presence of delays perturbing traffic. To counter these phenomena, real-time rescheduling can be used, changing train orders and times, according to rules of thumb, or mathematical optimization models, minimizing delays or maximizing punctuality. In the literature, different indices of robustness, reliability and resilience are defined for railway traffic. We review and evaluate these indices applied to railway traffic control, comparing optimal rescheduling approaches such as Open Loop and Closed Loop control, to a typical First-Come-First-Served dispatching rule, and following the timetable (no-action). This experimental analysis clarifies the benefits of automated traffic control for infrastructure managers, railway operators and passengers. The timetable order, normally used in assessing a-priori reliability, systematically overestimates unreliability of operations that can be reduced by real-time control.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.