Cost reduction using passenger centric timetabling

This project aims at designing a timetable of SBB Passenger division integrating both: supply (minimization of operating cost) and demand aspects (maximization of passenger satisfaction).

To design their timetables, train-operating companies mostly focus on operational aspects and cost. In Switzerland, a paradigm of transportation planning is to create regular-interval timetables (a.k.a. cyclic timetables) which aim for maximal transfer connections, simplicity and hence user friendliness. SBB uses travel simulation models to predict the impact of timetable changes on travel demand and revenue. Mathematical timetable optimization methods are not yet used by Swiss Ferderal Railways.

But a recent EPFL thesis (2016) shows that the timetable itself has a significant impact on the performance of the operator in terms of the number of transported passengers: a timetable design that considers the behavior of passengers leads to higher revenue(s), market share(s), higher value of passenger-km etc.

In this project, the aim is to use the optimization methods developed by the Transport and Mobility Laboratory (TRANSP-OR) consisting in combining cyclic and non-cyclic timetables and apply it to the Swiss Federal Railways’ timetable design. The goal is to evaluate the performance of the current Swiss interval timetable and to compare it to the optimal one. Suitability of hybrid timetables for the Swiss railway network will be investigated.

This one-year project is carried out by TRANSP-OR, led by professor Michel Bierlaire. TRANSP-OR has vast competence in modeling, optimization and simulation of transportation systems. The project is sponsored by Swiss Ferderal Railways.

Principal investigator Prof. Michel Bierlaire
Project manager Virginie Lurkin
Period 2017-2018
Laboratory TRANSP-OR
Collaboration TRACE