Conflict-free train path planning using ATO timing points

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Automatic Train Operation (ATO) is a technology to support or automate train driving for increasing service punctuality, energy efficiency and rail infrastructure capacity. Conflict-free train path planning is crucial to the effective deployment of ATO, which allows ATO-equipped trains to operate according to schedule with different train driving strategies. As different train driving strategies lead to various passing times, current planning practice is inadequate to avoid route conflicts as it only sets target arrival or passing times at stops or major junctions. Therefore, conflict-free train path planning needs the definition of a Train Path Envelope (TPE) that contains time targets or windows defined at discrete locations called timing points to tolerate schedule deviations due to different driving styles. The number and location of the timing points, as well as the associated time targets or windows, is a decision problem. This paper proposes a framework to design a robust set of timing points and their associated time windows in a TPE to enable operational conflict-free train path planning against the driving strategies utilised. This framework relies on a Train Path Slot model which extends the definition of TPE from time windows at a discrete set of locations to an integrated blocking time stairway pattern continuously defined across all locations over a train route. The Train Path Slot model considers three relevant train driving strategies, i.e., energy-efficient driving with or without coasting as well as minimum-time driving considering slight delays. A Linear Programming model is formulated to compute the conflict-free Train Path Slots as constraints for train operation. To meet the optimised Train Path Slots, we analyse several possible sets of timing points in a TPE that are only located at stops or signal positions along the train routes. Those timing point sets are then compared in terms of total Train Path Slot overlap time, capacity, energy efficiency and driving performance indicators. Our research supports infrastructure managers in resolving the imminent problem of timing point determination and TPE computation to reach their capacity goals. At the same time, it allows sufficient driving flexibility for railway undertakings.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventRailBelgrade 2023: 10th International Conference on Railway Operations Modelling and Analysis - Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
Duration: 25 Apr 202328 Apr 2023


ConferenceRailBelgrade 2023
Abbreviated titleICROMA
OtherRailBelgrade 2023 is the 10th International Conference on Railway Operations Modelling and Analysis (ICROMA). It will promote interdisciplinary discussions in the railway planning and operations research area by combining the expertise of academics and professionals. RailBelgrade 2023 will give researchers, consultants, and industrial practitioners the opportunity to meet, present their latest research, exchange know-how, and discuss current developments and applications. Leading railway scientists from different disciplines and professionals from the railway industry will deliver keynote speeches.
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Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • ATO-over-ETCS
  • Automatic Train Operation
  • Train Path Envelope
  • Train driving strategies
  • Timing Point


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