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Optimal Networks for Train Integration Management across Europe

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Tools for train scheduling

An EU group helped to upgrade Europe's passenger train capacity and scheduling. The results streamlined bottlenecks, yielded various best practice case studies, and produced a set of six key technical innovations, including tools and algorithms.

Industrial Technologies

Europe has been heavily investing in a general upgrade of its entire railway system. One aspect concerns scheduling and real-time management. However, to date, such developments have consisted of academic studies and little industrial involvement or practical application. The EU-funded ON-TIME (Optimal networks for train integration management across Europe) project aimed to improve railway customer satisfaction. The goal was to be accomplished via increased passenger capacity, improved traffic fluidity, plus reduced delays for passenger and freight trains. The consortium achieved its objectives. Resulting methods ensured that the railway network provides a dependable, resilient and environmentally friendly alternative to other forms of transportation. In particular, the team emphasised approaches for alleviating congestion at bottlenecks. Researchers compiled several case studies concerning all types of rail transportation: passenger and freight, and country and city. The compilation included a set of best practices. ON-TIME produced six key innovations. First was standardised definitions and methods for interoperable processes and tools, to be used for planning border-crossing and traffic management. The team developed new methods for timetable construction, able to handle and respond to system perturbations. Certain algorithms either automatically control minor network disturbances or provide decision support to operators. Additional algorithms and methods support choices regarding changing assets across multiple networks or countries. The project devised standardised approaches for clear presentation of necessary information to drivers and controllers. Lastly, a new information architecture supports communication of standardised train-control information, which is exchangeable among players. As a result of the ON-TIME project's innovations, the scheduling and control of European rail systems is now more efficient. This means improved customer experience.

Keywords

Train scheduling, railway, customer satisfaction, transportation, passenger and freight

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