OR at Netherlands Railways: Successes and Challenges

Invited abstract in session WB-25: OR Success Stories I, stream Business Day.

Wednesday, 10:50-12:20
Room: AachenMuenchener Halle (Aula)

Authors (first author is the speaker)

1. Dennis Huisman
Econometric Institute, Erasmus University


In 2008, Netherlands Railways (NS) won the Franz Edelman Award for using the Operations Research (OR) methods to introduce a completely, new timetable in December 2006. This timetable was selected from a set of 10 timetables, all generated with OR models. In addition, rolling stock and crew schedules were constructed with OR tools. Although the general performance of NS has significantly improved since the introduction of the new timetable, NS struggled a lot with winter weather, more specific with snow, during the last couple of years.

In December 2009, after severe problems in train operations, NS started - together with ProRail (the Dutch railway infrastructure manager) and the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment - a Winter program to improve its operations during heavy winter days. The long term goal of the Winter program is to achieve a high performance under all circumstances, so even during heavy winter conditions. This goal can be achieved by improving the assets such that they do not fail during heavy winter conditions, and by having a new process for disruption management. In this process, advanced algorithms to reschedule the timetable, rolling stock and crew in realtime, play a major role. The algorithms for real-time rescheduling of crew have already been used in practice. Experiments since Summer 2013 have shown that crew members can be rescheduled within a few minutes. In this presentation, we will discuss the first results, our implementation strategy and remaining challenges.


  • Transportation

Status: accepted

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