TDM - Transports Durables et Mobilité

Decision Support System for Robust Design and Service Quality Indicators of Railway Transport Plans – SCRIPT

Decision Support System for Robust Design and Service Quality Indicators of Railway Transport Plans

The SCRIPT project focuses on the design of robust railway transport plans. It aims to define indicators which model the stability of a plan by considering all of the critical resources needed (track, rolling-stock, crew), and then to propose methods that build optimized stable plans and validate them on real data with a simulator.

Improvement of railway transport plans' stability facing a growing traffic

Rail traffic should grow significantly in the coming years but this evolution won't really occur without users’ acceptance of the service provided by rail transport.<br />To fulfill the future demand for transport, railway companies must therefore ensure a stable and reliable transport plan which requires to anticipate of the needed investments (infrastructure and equipment) and to use adequately available resources. The SCRIPT project thus addresses social issues, through the improvement of the quality of service (regularity / punctuality), economic issues, by searching a compromise between cost and stability of the transport plan, and environmental issues, as an important incentive to promote the modal shift from road to railway.<br />In order to address these issues, the main objectives of the project SCRIPT are:<br />1 - To build a shared and practical vision of the consequences of disturbances, as well as the available ways to deal with them at the design step, by defining reliable indicators.<br />2 - To propose innovative methods for the design and optimization of railway transport plans under uncertainties.<br />3 - To study their applicability and their impact on the planning of rolling-stock and crew.<br />

The first step of the project has been to make a state of the art of the various indicators and methods proposed in literature to assess stability in the railway field, but also to identify the interactions between different critical rail resources. Combined with this work, various discussions with SNCF planners have permitted to build a common view among all the partners involved in the project. In addition, a new specific user-opinion pool has been conducted for the project. All these elements should permit to select several relevant indicators to quantify the robustness of railway transport plans.
Simultaneously to the work on robustness indicators, we have developed a software prototype which can generate railway transport plans and is based on an integrated optimization of the various resources. A flow simulation model has then been developed. This model allows to reflect the operational behavior of a transport plan under various disturbances and thus to quantify the impact of each possible disturbance. Experiment has been performed on real railway data in order to validate both prototypes.

The main result of the project was to show that designing transport plans in an integrated way can help to significantly improve their robustness. Moreover most of the improvements observed were obtained for a constant cost of transport.
From a scientific point of view, the robustness of railway plans was only studied for each resource separately and our innovative approach could initiate many researches.

Future works should focus on three main points:
- From an algorithmic point of view, the optimization method developed could certainly be improved. In addition, some potential bias have been highlighted and should be corrected.
- Concerning the optimization criteria, it could be interesting to consider one related to the reparability of railway transport plans in order to evolve toward a proactive-reactive approach.
- Finally, in terms of decision support, it would be useful to determine the correlations between the different optimization criteria and the quantification of each disturbance impact in order to set the importance of criteria.

Researches from the project have generated two articles published in the proceedings of international conferences, two talks in national conferences and a PhD thesis.

The SCRIPT project aims at characterizing and answering robustness problems in the design of railway transport plans. The first objective will be to define the relevant indicators for modeling the stability of a plan from the point of view of the users and customers as well as from the point of view of the railway company. The project then aims at proposing innovating methods that determine optimized stable plans compared to a typology of risks, and at validating these methods with a simulator integrating the various risks on real data. This project falls in the thematic axes 3.2 (“gestion des réseaux de transport”, i.e. management of transport networks) and 3.3 (“productivité et services”, i.e. productivity and services) of the call for projects for 2012 of the TDM program. The originalities of the project are multiple. First, the goal is to analyze stability with the double vision customer, mainly concerned with quality of service, and Railway Company, whose primary focus is on costs. The study will consider French customers, whose expectations can be quite different from those of customers in other countries. Secondly, all the critical resources necessary to implement a transport plan will be considered: Train paths, rolling stock and train drivers. A complete network will be considered with its connections with other networks. Lastly, to undertake this research, the project lies on a consortium made up of two complementary laboratories on the problems of robustness, optimization in transportation and simulation, and the main actor of the rail transport in France.

Project coordination

Xavier Delorme (ARMINES Institut Henri Fayol de l'Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Etienne) –

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


ARMINES CMP ARMINES Centre Microélectronique de Provence de l'Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Etienne
SNCF Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français
ARMINES FAYOL ARMINES Institut Henri Fayol de l'Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Etienne

Help of the ANR 550,256 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2012 - 36 Months

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