Routing trains through a railway station based on a Node Packing model
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In this paper, we describe the problem of routing trains through a railway station. This routing problem is a subproblem of the automatic generation of timetables for the Dutch railway system. The problem of routing trains through a railway station is the problem of assigning each of the involved trains to a route through the railway station, given the detailed layout of the railway network within the station and given the arrival and departure times of the trains. When solving this routing problem, several aspects such as capacity, safety, and customer service have to be taken into account. In this paper, we describe this routing problem in terms of a weighted node packing problem. Furthermore, we describe an algorithm for solving this routing problem to optimality. The algorithm is based on preprocessing, valid inequalities, and a branch-and-cut approach. The preprocessing techniques aim at identifying superfluous nodes which can be removed from the problem instance. The characteristics of the preprocessing techniques with respect to propagation are investigated. We also present the results of a computational study in which the model, the preprocessing techniques and the algorithm are tested based on data related to the railway stations Arnhem, Hoorn and Utrecht CS in the Netherlands.