Posts tagged service reliability

International rail summit 2016: Big Data and rail

Big Data also enter the railway industry. Board computers, passenger smart cards and cell phones provide valuable data to enhance design of networks and timetables. Big Data supports the improvement of transport models and cost benefit analyses (CBAs). An example of success was the approval of a new light rail in Utrecht, the Netherlands. It was not common use to consider reliability benefits explicitly, but in this case they were responsible for the positive cost benefit ratio.

Find my presentation at the Railsummit 2016 HERE

Rail summit website

Robustness of multi-level public transport networks: A methodology to quantify robustness from a passenger perspective

Despite the importance of robust public transport networks, this topic has not been considered from a full passenger perspective yet in scientific literature and practice. To our best knowledge, this study is the first in which both exposure to large, non-recurrent disturbances and impact of these disturbances are analysed in a systematic and realistic way. Contrary to single-level network perspectives, we considered the integrated, total multi-level public transport network which remains available when a disturbance occurs. We developed a new methodology to identify the most vulnerable links in the multi-level public transport network and to quantify the societal costs of non-robustness of these vulnerable links. Besides, applying our methodology enables quantification of the robustness benefits of robustness measures, next to the costs of such measures. Therefore, our methodology can support and rationalize the decision-making process of public transport operators and authorities regarding the implementation of different robustness measures.

Read the full paper: INSTR2015-Yap et al.

Find our presentation: INSTR2015 Presentation Yap et al.

EMTA Report: Light rail explained

The need for viable, cost effective and attractive public transport in high-density areas is immanent. Transport Authorities have a responsibility to foster innovations in urban transport and look at smart replies to match the growth of demand for quality mass transit. A good living climate, economic efficiency, social inclusion, sustainability and competitiveness depend on the capacities of a city to invest in high quality transport services. The authors of this paper explain what especially in urbanised areas should be main reasons to persuade cities to improve accessibility and liveability by engage and develop a light rail solution. It comes down to a very basic question: “why light rail?” or more in general “why chose for high quality public transport?”.

In a thorough evidence-based description Rob van der Bijl and Niels van Oort demonstrate how it has been overlooked that light right rail does not only provide benefits that are obvious to all, like speed and comfort,
but that in cost-benefit terms also reliability of service should be valued in money. Efficiency benefits
thereby are incomplete and therefore impeded chances on smart light rail realisation. If taken into
account the social context of projects and awareness of the influence of the difference in types of
legal context, governance and institutional legacy a transformation of urban networks by light rail
can be an asset to spatial urban revival. The Light Rail can be an impetus to the urban quality of
life and more importantly provide a sustainable way of accommodating mobility needs of city
denizens and visitors.

Read the full report: EMTA Report

Data driven optimisation of public transport

Presentation at EMTA meeting at TfL in London:
Feedforward mechanisms in public transport; How data improves service quality and increases efficiency.

Find the presentation HERE

How lightrail may enable enhanced service reliability

The introduction of lightrail in The Hague enabled a leap in service quality. The key challenge in other projects is how to incorporate these expected effects into decision making. In Utrecht we succeeded to calculate the expected service reliability impacts and incorporated them into the cost benefit analysis.

Read more: Presentation Danske Bane Konference

Big data supports light rail business case

Transport planners are starting to consider how “big data” retrieved from passenger smart cards, computers and mobile phones could improve the design of urban rail networks and timetables, and improve operations by predicting ridership. Niels van Oort, assistant professor at Delft University of Technology, and consultant at Goudappel Coffeng, explains how big data was utilised to support the business case for a proposed light rail line in Utrecht.

Read the full article: Internation Railway Journal (URL) or Internation Railway Journal (PDF)

Robust public transport from a passenger perspective

MSc.Thesis by Menno Yap (full report: HERE )


Disturbances in public transport are an important issue for passengers, public transport operators and infrastructure managers. After the occurrence of large disturbances, there is often a strong call from passengers and society to make the public transport network less vulnerable – and therefore more robust – against these types of events. Despite the mentioned importance of considering robustness, the next limitations can be formulated regarding the way robustness of public transport networks is currently considered:
When evaluating and improving robustness of public transport networks against large non-recurrent disturbances, a passenger perspective is not included to its full extent. There is a strong focus on independent network levels operated by a single public transport operator, instead of considering the integral, multi-level public transport network available for passengers.

In general, limited quantitative data is available about disturbances which occur on multi-level public transport networks and about the effects of these disturbances on passengers. Also there is limited knowledge about the robustness performances of different network levels relative to each other. Given these limitations, the following main research question is formulated:
What methodology can be developed to evaluate the robustness of multi-level public transport networks and to evaluate robustness effects of measures for the case study network between Rotterdam and The Hague?

In this study, robustness is related only to major discrete events: large, non-recurrent events which affect infrastructure availability. In line with this, the next definition of robustness is used in this study:
‘Robustness is the extent to which the network is able to maintain the function it was originally designed for under circumstances which strongly deviate from plan’.
In this study, a methodology is developed which enables the evaluation of the current robustness of multi-level public transport networks, as well as the evaluation of proposed robustness measures. The case study shows that it is worth to consider another network level as back-up in case a certain network level is blocked. The result of the case study indicates that from a societal point of view, there is still room to improve the robustness of multi-level public transport networks.
The developed methodology can especially be developed further by incorporating en-route route choice possibilities in the transit assignment model. Further research is recommended especially to gain more knowledge about the behaviour of passengers in case they are confronted with major discrete events and in case they are confronted with crowded vehicles.

The value of enhanced service reliability of public transport

Service reliability is an important quality characteristic in public transport. However,
in cost-benefit analyses (CBA), this quality aspect is rarely taken into account explicitly.
It is more common to calculate vehicle indicators (e.g. punctuality) instead of passenger
focused metrics. In this paper, we demonstrate how to calculate the passenger impacts of
service unreliability. In an actual case, the replacement of a bus line by a light rail line in Utrecht, we proved that our method is valuable and can be applied directly into practice.  By calculating the benefits of the improved service reliability of the proposed light rail line, which were about 2/3 of all benefits, the cost benefit ratio was positive, which convinced the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Environment to support the project by €110 million.

Read the full paper: RailCopenhagen 2013 Value of service reliability paper Van Oort

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