The project draws on previous research projects and national trials. Previously, railways have improved their own networks to remove bottlenecks and increase fluidity. Such changes have generally been done ad hoc, so results and best practice have not been shared. And previous relevant academic research has, in general, been based on algorithm development.
A step-change in railway capacity by reducing delays and improving traffic fluidity.
This will be achieved by a partnership between railway industry experts, system integrators, small dynamic knowledge led companies and academic researchers. There are 4 levels of work:
- L1: High level principles, definitions and requirements to direct research;
- L2: Methods and algorithms derived from L1 that improve capacity and reduce delay;
- L3: Functional components using L2 methods and algorithms to show improvement in capacity and delay; and architecture linking the functional components, including information definitions, to distribute those components across environments and countries;
- L4: Demonstrators to show that the functional components can be built into industrial-strength systems.
Applying the results of such research needs an understanding of the practical operating principles and the nature of delay initiation and propagation.This project will address both issues and deliver research-based results that can be freely applied to commercial traffic management and traffic planning tools.
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.
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 http://www.ontime-project.eu (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.