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Timetable 2007: Why and How?. Dennis Huisman. Econometric Institute & ECOPT, Erasmus Univ. Rotterdam Dept. of Logistics, NS. www.ecopt.nl. Thursday January 18, 2007. Schedule. Introduction on the Dutch railway system Why a new timetable? How is the 2007 timetable constructed?

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Timetable 2007 why and how

Timetable 2007:Why and How?

Dennis Huisman

Econometric Institute & ECOPT, Erasmus Univ. RotterdamDept. of Logistics, NS


Thursday January 18, 2007


  • Introduction on the Dutch railway system

  • Why a new timetable?

  • How is the 2007 timetable constructed?

    • Different steps

    • OR models

    • Process

  • Future developments

Some figures
Some figures

1.100.000 passenger trips per workday passenger kilometers per year

  • passenger trains per workday

    300 cargo trains per workday

    2800 kilometers of tracks

    377 stations

Dutch railway system



Dutch railway system


  • Dense railway system

  • Cyclic timetable (1 hr)

  • Several train types

  • High utilization of infra

  • Many connections

Timetable 2007 why
Timetable 2007: Why?

  • No major changes since “Spoorslag ’70” but much more passengers

  • Improving robustness of the system

  • New commercial product with high speed trains, Intercity services and sprinters (no semi-fast trains anymore)

  • Better connections with Belgium and Germany

  • New infrastructure would be available in 2007 (HSL, Betuweroute, quadrupling Amsterdam-Utrecht)

How to construct a new timetable
How to construct a new timetable?

Three steps:

  • Make a line plan, i.e. determine the direct connections and the frequencies, etc.

  • Construct the timetable for one hour, i.e. decide on the exact arrival and departure times, connections, etc.

  • Construct the timetable for a whole week

    Strong dependency between the first two steps, and between these steps and rolling stock planning

Line planning 1
Line planning (1)

  • Input: O-D matrix

  • Output: routes with their frequency & some transfers (e.g. 2/hr IC Den Helder – Amsterdam – Utrecht - Nijmegen, 2/hr IC Schagen/Alkmaar – Amsterdam – Utrecht – Eindhoven - Maastricht/Heerlen, 2/hr IC Schiphol – Utrecht - Eindhoven).

  • Possible criteria:

    • As much direct connections as possible

    • Robustness

    • Short travel times

Line planning 2
Line planning (2)

  • Not many OR models are used in line planning

  • Decisions mainly made on properties of the infrastructure, market specifications and political wishes

  • Most discussions in public/media are about the line plan

  • Example: Voorburg, Zoetermeer, Gouda and Woerden all like to have an Intercity station on the route Utrecht – The Hague, on the other hand travel times from North & East to the Hague should be short.

Timetabling 1
Timetabling (1)

  • Determine for each train on all stations the exact arrival and departure times such that

    • headway constraints are satisfied,

    • transfers are as much as possible satisfied,

    • travel times (including buffers) have to be taken into account,

    • trains on the same line are equally distributed,

    • the timetable is cyclic.

Basic hour pattern

Amersfoort – Lunteren - Ede-Wageningen

Timetabling 2
Timetabling (2)

  • The new timetable is constructed with DONS (= Designer Of Network Schedules)

  • DONS consists of a database, GUI and two solvers: CADANS and STATIONS

  • CADANS creates the ‘basis hour pattern’ and is developed by CWI (Schrijver & Steenbeek, 1994)

  • STATIONS creates the ‘basis platform assignment’ and is developed by Zwaneveld et al. (1996)

  • Both solvers are based on OR models

Cadans 1

  • The OR model is based on the Periodic Event Scheduling Problem (PESP)

  • Examples of constraints

    with T: cycle time

    Q(e1,e2): binary decision variable indicating whether event e1 is carried out before event e2 or not

Cadans 2

with T: cycle time

Q(e3,e4): binary decision variable indicating whether event e3 is carried out before event e4 or not

  • PESP is solved with preprocessing techniques, constraint propagation and local optimization techniques

Cadans 3

  • CADANS provides either feasible solution or gives some indication why it is infeasible

  • In the latter case, planner should change the specifications and try again

Reliability of timetables
Reliability of timetables

  • Measured by punctuality of the railway system

  • Simulation is used to determine the expected punctuality of a ‘basic hour pattern’

  • This is done by introducing disturbances and measuring their effect on the overall punctuality

  • The new timetable is simulated with SIMONE (= SImulation MOdel of NEtworks) developed by ProRail and NS

Timetable 2007 process 1
Timetable 2007: process (1)

  • Focus: timetable 2009

  • Timetable 2007 is derived from timetable 2009, but has the line plan of 2006 on some parts of the network (e.g. between Amsterdam and Vlissingen)

  • Joint work between NS, ProRail and Raillion

  • Start 2003

Timetable 2007 process 2
Timetable 2007: process (2)

  • 10 completely different line plans have been considered (including very extreme ones)

  • For all of them DONS generated a ‘basis hour pattern’

  • SIMONE runs were done to measure the punctuality of the different timetables

  • Consequences on travel times/transfers/frequencies for all passengers in the O-D matrix have been determined

  • General statistics on expected number of passengers, costs and revenues have been calculated as well

Timetable 2007 process 3
Timetable 2007: process (3)

  • Board choose line plan in March 2005 (mix of 2 of the initial line plans)

  • Go/no go decision in December 2005

  • Afterwards 1-hour timetable is copied to 7*24 hours and rolling stock and crew schedules are constructed

  • In the mean time: several small adjustments (e.g. shorter travel times to the North) and one large adjustment (not opening four tracks Amsterdam-Utrecht)

Future developments
Future developments

Running time supplements

  • Timetable 1970-2006: 7% running time supplement

  • Timetable 2007: 5% running time supplement

  • Vromans et al. (2005) developed an optimization model to distribute the supplements such that the average delays can be minimized

  • A practical experiment on the Zaanlijn with a modified timetable showed that the punctuality can be improved by a few percent points

  • Timetable 2009: practice ??