Controlling operations of public transport to improve reliability: theory and practice

RandstadRail is a new light rail system between the cities of The Hague, Rotterdam and Zoetermeer in The Netherlands. During peak hours, the frequency on some trajectories is about 24 vehicles an hour. Dealing with these high frequencies and offering travelers a high-quality product, in terms of waiting times and the probability
of getting a seat, the operator designed a three-step controlling philosophy. The first step is to prevent deviations from occurring: the infrastructure is exclusively right of way as much as possible and at intersections RandstadRail gets priority over the other traffic. RandstadRail stops at every stop and never leaves before the
scheduled time. The second step in the philosophy is dealing with deviations by planning additional time in the schedule at stops, trajectories and terminals. Small deviations can be solved in this way. The final step to get vehicles back on schedule is performed by the traffic control centre: they have a total overview of all vehicles
and they can respond to disturbances like slowing down vehicles nearby a delayed vehicle. Experiencing major disturbances rerouting and shortening of lines is possible. RandstadRail has been in operation since 2007. The actual data of the performance is used to analyze the actual effects of the control philosophy. It is shown that due to the applied measures the variability of the driving times is reduced, whereas punctuality has increased. This leads to a higher level of service, creating shorter travel times and a better distribution of passengers across the vehicles.

Read the full paper:Paper TRR 2009 Van Oort

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