• railway delay management;
  • online optimization;
  • simulation


Unavoidable disruptions induce the necessity of delay management in timetable-driven passenger rail traffic. Minimizing the negative consequences of delays becomes one of the most relevant challenges for the economic success, as it directly affects the timeliness of passengers, which is a core indicator of customer satisfaction. In this article, we evaluate and compare various delay management strategies in a passenger railway network. A simulator has been implemented to generate delays and perform operations control decisions to resolve connection conflicts induced through passenger connections involving delayed trains. We compare dispatching strategies based on mathematical optimization with simple rule-based strategies. Simulation runs with a timetable from the long-distance passenger traffic of German Railways show that, due to the online nature of this decision problem, a simple waiting time rule strategy can outperform a strategy where the operations are reoptimized online after each disruption. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. NETWORKS, 2011