Railway disruption management challenges and possible solution directions

Nadjla Ghaemi*, Oded Cats, Rob M.P. Goverde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


This paper investigates the challenges of railway traffic controllers in dealing with big disruptions and the kind of support tools that could help to improve their task in terms of performance, lead time and workload. The disruption handling process can be partitioned into three phases resembling a bathtub. For each phase the essential decision making process has been identified. Currently, the support to rail traffic controllers in case of severe disruptions is limited to predefined contingency plans that are not always feasible or applicable. In the literature, models and algorithms have been identified that could be used in the different parts of the three phases of the disruption handling process. This paper investigates the processes of disruption management in practice and the challenges that traffic controllers are facing during a disruption. The literature of models applicable to disruption management is reviewed and classified based on the three phases of the traffic state during disruptions. Finally, a rescheduling optimization model is applied to a case of complete blockage on a corridor of the Dutch railway network. The case study shows how a microscopic model could support the traffic controllers by providing real-time solutions for different phases of a disruption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-364
Number of pages22
JournalPublic Transport
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • Optimization
  • Railway disruption
  • Rescheduling


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