Objective decision making in the event of disruptions - potentials for single wagonload transport network control

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Considering climate policy goals and an intended shift of freight traffic, rail offers an opportunity to encounter the increasing GHG emissions. Single wagonload transport is a category of rail freight transport in which railcars from different senders to receivers are routed through a single hub and spoke based network. At intermediate nodes, the railcars are consolidated with other railcars until they reach their destination. Time-critical shipments in particular are currently transported mainly by truck or air freight due to the higher reliability regarding the agreed delivery appointments. To improve the reliability of the network and intervene in the event of disruption, control mechanisms are necessary.
The aim of this paper is to analyse network control in dealing with disruptions that occur during operation of the network. Objective decision making in dealing with disruptions enables an optimal schedule adjustment and thus a minimization of disruption consequences. Introducing an exemplary single wagonload network, several scenarios are designed to represent different network states. A simulation of the network enables the determination of parameters such as an adapted train framework, which serves as input parameters for an optimization model.
The simulation of the scenarios including stochastic influences enables an estimation of the processes taking place in reality. The resulting parameters serve as input for a novel optimization model. This model optimizes the routing plan taking into account the parameters determined by simulation. The parameters determined from this can now be played back into the simulation and thus iteratively adjust to changing conditions. Ultimately, this process can provide an improved response to stochastic events.
In order to fulfil the aim of this paper we conduct computational experiments for the different scenarios. The experiments enable an analysis of the effects within the different scenarios and thus a better understanding of complex decision making in case of disruption occurrence. In addition, the experiments allow to determine expected transport times.
This work contributes to the controller's ability to make objective decisions when resolving disruptions in single wagonload transport.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


TitleEuropean Transport Conference 2022
SubtitleBehaviour Change – the impacts of the climate emergency and COVID-19 on long term travel patterns
Abbreviated titleETC 2022
Conference number50
Duration7 - 9 September 2022
LocationPolitecnico di Milano


Sustainable Development Goals