Evaluating the Use of Operational Management Techniques for Capacity Improvements on Shared-Use Rail Corridors

SPONSOR:  NATIONAL CENTER FOR FREIGHT AND INFRASTRUCTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION

PI:  Pasi Lautala

The majority of intercity passenger and commuter rail services in the United States (U.S.) operate on the shared-use corridors with freight rail services. These types of operations tend to be challenging for efficient capacity utilization and reliability due to the high heterogeneity of trains (diversity of trains operations). In addition, the projected growth in demand for rail transportation is likely to exacerbate the situation, making efficient use of capacity a necessity for freight and passenger traffic alike. There are two main approaches to improve the capacity levels, either by applying new capital investment or by improving operational characteristics and parameters of the rail services (such as improving the trains timetables). To date, U.S. has concentrated more on the first approach while the second approach is commonly used in European practices. It would be beneficial to evaluate the main challenges and advantages of using operational management techniques to improve the capacity utilization along shared use corridors in the U.S.

This study will investigate the use of operations management techniques on selected shared use corridors (Kalamazoo – Dearborn section of the Michigan HSR corridor and Baltimore-Washington section of the Northeast Corridor). The study will be conducted by applying the European simulation packages (Railsys and/or Opentrack) as well as Rail Traffic Controller (RTC), a common simulation package in the U.S., to evaluate different traffic scenarios and operational variables at selected locations. The use of multiple simulation tools will also allow application of a hybrid approach on the operational scenarios that will be developed in collaboration with DOTs and Amtrak.

Pasi Lautala
Pasi Lautala