In December 2006, Netherlands Railways introduced a completely new timetable. Its objective was to facilitate the growth of passenger and freight transport on a highly utilized railway network and improve the robustness of the timetable, thus resulting in fewer operational train delays. Modifications to the existing timetable, which was constructed in 1970, were not an option; additional growth would require significant investments in the rail infrastructure. Constructing a railway timetable from scratch for about 5,500 daily trains was a complex problem. To support this process, we generated several timetables using sophisticated operations research techniques. Furthermore, because rolling-stock and crew costs are principal components of the costs of a passenger railway operator, we used innovative operations research tools to devise efficient schedules for these two resources. The new resource schedules and the increased number of passengers resulted in an additional annual profit of 40 million ($60 million); the additional revenues generated approximately 10 million of this profit. We expect this profit to increase to 70 million ($105 million) annually in the coming years. However, the benefits of the new timetable for the Dutch society as a whole are much greater: more trains are transporting more passengers on the same railway infrastructure, and these trains are arriving and departing on schedule more than they ever have in the past. In addition, the rail transport system will be able to handle future transportation demand growth and thus allow cities to remain accessible to more people. Therefore, we expect that many will switch from car transport to rail transport, thus reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.

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Interfaces (Hanover)
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Kroon, L., Huisman, D., Abbink, E., Fioole, P.-J., Fischetti, M., Maróti, G., … Ybema, R. (2009). The New Dutch Timetable: The OR Revolution. Interfaces (Hanover), 39(1), 6–17. doi:10.1287/inte.1080.0409