Timetable planners are being asked to identify additional capacity in an already congested infrastructure to meet the commercial pressures of increasing demand for rail services. Train operating companies are also increasingly being required to improve reliability, and may be penalised for late running trains. No railway timetable ever operates perfectly, and delays in operation can be both costly and damaging to the image of the railway. Many delays are avoidable either through more efficient despatching of trains or through better planning to provide a more resilient timetable. However, quantitative analysis of timetable robustness has in the past been almost impossible, so timetable development has relied on experience and local knowledge to maximise service reliability.
Trapeze Group Rail has developed a powerful new tool to help railway operators to identify avoidable timetable problems, and to be able to do this long before they become visible on the day of operation. Based upon an existing timetable plan and requiring minimal additional information, the Timetable Robustness Analyser (TTRA) can rapidly pinpoint problem trains and locations. This then allows corrective action to be considered well in advance, and the effects – both costs and benefits – of alternative courses of action to be evaluated. Such action may involve changes to the timetable and resource schedules, changes to the infrastructure, changes in train regulation guidelines, or a combination of these factors.