The New Dutch Timetable: The OR Revolution



In December 2006, Netherlands Railways introduced a completely new timetable. The timetable was designed to facilitate further growth of passenger and freight transport on a highly utilized railway network on one hand, and to improve the robustness of the timetable in order to reduce the number of train delays in the operation, on the other hand.The construction of a railway timetable from scratch for about 5,500 daily trains was a complex puzzle. To support this whole process, sophisticated Operations Research techniques were used to generate several timetables, one of which was finally selected and implemented. Furthermore, the costs of a railway operator are mainly determined by the rolling stock and crew schedules. Two innovative Operations Research tools were used to come up with efficient schedules for these two resources. The more efficient resource schedules and the increased number of passengers already resulted in an annual additional profit of 40 million Euros ($60 million). It is expected that this will increase to 70 million Euros ($105 million) in coming years. However, the benefits of the new timetable for the Dutch society as a whole are much higher: more trains are transporting more passengers on the same railway infrastructure, and all these trains run more on time than ever before. As a result, future growth in transportation demand can be handled by rail transport allowing cities to remain accessible. Moreover, the emission of greenhouse gases can be reduced.
Contact information:
Wilco van den Heuvel