Quantifying Intermodal Facility Capacity Factor Interactions through Simulation

UIUC Project Information


NuRail Project IDNURail2017-UIUC-R20
Project TitleQuantifying Intermodal Facility Capacity Factor Interactions through Simulation
UniversityUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Project ManagerTyler Dick
Principal InvestigatorTyler Dick
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Total Project Cost$
Agency ID or Contract NumberDTRT13-G-UTC52 (Grant 2)
Start Date2017-08-15
End Date2019-08-15
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Brief Description of Research ProjectIntermodal hubs play an important role in the operation of railway networks. Intermodal freight is a primary revenue stream for Class I railroads in the United States. Intermodal traffic volume has increased approximately 10 percent since 2011 and reached new all-time record volumes during the summer of 2017. This growth combined with shifts in traffic patterns and a move from trailers to containers, has strained the capacity of existing intermodal terminals. In response, railroads are expanding their intermodal service capabilities by upgrading existing terminals and building new ones. Although intermodal freight generates substantial revenue, its operating and capital investment requirements are substantial. Under constrained capital budgets, railroads must make informed decisions regarding investments in new intermodal terminals, facility expansion and optimizing the efficiency and capacity of existing facilities. These decisions require a detailed understanding of intermodal facility capacity factors and their interactions, including size and layout of the facilities, and number and type of lift equipment. Currently, intermodal terminal capacity is largely evaluated on the basis of practitioner planning experience and a limited number of independent capacity factors. There is a need for a more thorough understanding of the interaction between fundamental factors that influence intermodal terminal capacity. This project proposes to investigate the factors affecting intermodal terminal capacity by developing a simulation model of the intermodal terminal operation in AnyLogic. The project team will develop logic for the intermodal loading, unloading and dray processes and translate them to the AnyLogic discrete-event simulation platform. After developing a model of a representative intermodal terminal, the project team will simulate a series of experiment scenarios designed to quantify the effect of various capacity factors and their interactions.
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