The Commission’s 2011 White Paper states that by 2050, rail should substantially expand its modal share over medium and long distances. This is consistent with the Policy goals of expanding rail capacity, both cited in the Horizon 2020 and Shift2Rail (S2R) calls. Considering the ambitious Horizon 2020 Key Performance Indicator (KPI) calling for a surge in the utilisation of capacity within a range 70-90%, yards, hubs and terminals play a key role in facilitating this step-change by contributing to a competitive, reliable and safe freight transport.
To meet the needs of S2R and Horizon 2020, OptiYard will design decision support tool for yard managers that will help them to optimise processes and manage their yards more efficiently. It will do this in real-time, with interaction with relevant network. The processes must be performed in real-time, to guarantee on-time delivery and operational efficiency, in particular, for single wagon transport.
OptiYard addresses critical operational points of the transport chain (both rail marshalling yards or as transfer points to other modes) to improve capacity and reliability. OptiYard will facilitate real-time interaction between yard and relevant network IT systems that allow for software based planning and ultimately optimisation of single wagonload and blocktrain operational processes.
Building on the current state of the art and practice, the ambition of OptiYard is to provide a fully functional software module where real-time yard management, interaction with the network and ad-hoc timetable planning will be simulated in real-time. The optimization module and algorithms will be proven for large and complex freight transport networks, and integrate well with IP5 activities towards automation, e.g. intelligent assets and automated shunting and mainline operations.
The main objective of OptiYard is to improve capacity and service reliability by focusing on Yard Operations, namely by providing an optimised decision support system for Yard Managers. Specifically, OptiYard will address the following objectives:
- Automate yard management optimization: an innovative algorithm to automate and optimize the organization of the processes to be performed in a marshaling yard will be delivered;
- Real-time interaction with the surrounding railway network: a novel decision support tool for automated ad-hoc timetabling and traffic management to include the yard management in a globally optimized system will be produced;
- Simulate intelligent real-time yard operations: the project will build on a state-of-the-art yard simulation platform compatible with short term innovations, in order to achieve improved modeling and communication system, and to integrate optimized decisions into the real-time simulation;
- Improve information and communication processes: new effective structures for the flows of data towards and from the terminals, necessary for communication and information sharing between infrastructure managers and railway undertakings for yard management will be defined;
- A technical demonstrator in the form of a fully functional software module will be built to show how the developed intelligent real-time simulation can provide concrete and validated optimal decision support for dispatchers in yards, with a link to network management.
This project employs a multimethod approach including:
- Efficient management of common consortium activities ensuring effective overall administrative and financial management. This will be achieved through a quality assurance procedure in place, regular meetings, strict deadlines and reporting;
- Collection of information, visits to freight yards and desktop studies to revise the rail freight operating process and gain a better understanding of how targeted information and data have been gathered and used in real-time;
- In-depth reviews will be organised to review and build on the results of past EU projects (RNE tools) and in accordance with the existing regulations TAF TSI and TAP TSI, development of an improved decision support in ad-hoc timetable planning so that strategies for improving the operating processes that connect freight traffic in yards and terminals with timetable slots to and from the network can be devised;
- Functional requirements and technical characteristics of methods and techniques identified for real-time data management will be mapped against the different parties involved and situations to identify the best possible solution for this challenge;
- A microscopic model of an integrated yard and network system will be developed and implemented to study the new solutions for yard and network management in real-time. The model will be equipped with functional and technical specifications for simulation modelling environment and data management interface and will help maximise operating efficiency, utilisation of available network capacity, and reliability of the operation and service on the whole;
- Simulation software will be used to produce a yard model which will be validated and tested in a real world environment using a multiple-method approach; e.g. outputs from simulation will be compared with data collected from the real operations, validation through statistics, KPIs and MoPs, external reviews and expert evaluations.