Optimised Real-time Yard and Network Management

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Project information

  • Project website: https://optiyard.eu/
  • Acronym: OPTIYARD
  • Total budget: €1 499 000
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Project start date: 01/10/2017
  • Project end date: 30/10/2019
  • Partners: 13 partners from 7 countries
  • Project coordinator: International union of railways (UIC)
  • Grant agreement n°777594

Project description

To meet the needs of S2R and Horizon 2020, OptiYard will design optimised processes for managing marshaling yards and terminals, considering their interaction with the network. The processes considered are those that must be performed in real-time, to guarantee on-time delivery and operational efficiency, for single wagon transport.

OptiYard addresses critical operational points of the transport chain (both rail marshalling yards or as transfer points to other modes) to improve capacity and reliability. Most importantly, these improvements will enhance competitiveness whilst increasing service reliability and customer satisfaction by providing accurate and updated information. Real-time interaction between yard and relevant network IT systems will allow for software based planning and ultimately optimisation of single wagonload and blocktrain operational processes.

If rail is to play an increasing role in sustainable European freight transport, the freight network will need to offer enhanced connectivity between key EU transport corridors and hence there will be need to manage increasing numbers of train movements and shunting operations through freight marshalling yards at strategic locations. OptiYard will provide enhanced decision support that can be directly applied to achieving enhanced yard capacity and efficiency.

The lack of full integration between yard and network is a current weakness, and one that increase as more real-time data becomes available, because we will miss the opportunities to realise the benefits of such improved data. Hence, there needs to be much more progress in developing the integration of information systems and control systems between the yard systems and the network systems. It is in this field where OptiYard offers the most exciting possibilities.

Large rail freight marshalling yards are complex operations which present major challenges to achieving operational efficiency, such that managing them effectively even in a stand-alone mode is a challenging task, for which sophisticated scheduling systems are required. The arrival and departure of freight trains to/from the yard are closely linked to the operations of the wider network eco system, making some of the yard operation processes (shunting, marshalling and departing train dispatches) more time-critical than others.

Thus, a key challenge to the future success of yard management lies in the real-time information exchange between the yard and the relevant network eco system, and the interactive responses between the yard and the network managements. With such information capabilities, yard operations could be rescheduled at short notice to take account of perturbations on the network, such as the delayed arrival of an incoming freight train, allowing rapid re-optimisation of yard operations. Real-time network information could also be used to identify more accurate departure times for trains leaving yards, again allowing for beneficial rescheduling of yard operations.
Hence, we develop a holistic approach to providing a real-time decision-making framework for optimising yard operations and the yard-network interface.

Project objectives

The main objective of OptiYard is to improve capacity and service reliability by focusing on Yard Operations, namely by providing an optimised decision support system for Yard Managers. Specifically, OptiYard will address the following objectives:

  • Automate yard management optimisation: an innovative algorithm to automate and optimise the organisation of the processes to be performed in a marshaling yard will be delivered;
  • Real-time interaction with the surrounding railway network: a novel decision support tool for automated ad-hoc timetabling and traffic management to include the yard management in a globally optimised system will be produced;
  • Simulate intelligent real-time yard operations: the project will build on a state-of-the-art yard simulation platform compatible with short term innovations, in order to achieve improved modeling and communication system, and to integrate optimised decisions into the real-time simulation;
  • Improve information and communication processes: new effective structures for the flows of data towards and from the terminals, necessary for communication and information sharing between infrastructure managers and railway undertakings for yard management will be defined;
  • A technical demonstrator in the form of a fully functional software module will be built to show how the developed intelligent real-time simulation can provide concrete and validated optimal decision support for dispatchers in yards, with a link to network management.

Project structure

WP1 Management
WP2 Data analytics
WP3 Specifications
WP4 Modelling
WP5 Process optimisation
WP6 Feasibility and simulation testing
WP7 Dissemination

Project consortium

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Sunday 1 October 2017