Railroad Decision Support Tools for Track Maintenance

UIUC Project Information

NuRail Project IDNURail2012-UIUC-R14
Project TitleRailroad Decision Support Tools for Track Maintenance
UniversityUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Project ManagerTyler Dick
Principal InvestigatorTyler Dick
PI Contact Information
Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization)$50,000
Total Project Cost$
Agency ID or Contract NumberDTRT12-G-UTC18 (Grant 1)
Start Date2013-01-01
End Date2016-08-31
Brief Description of Research ProjectNorth American railroads spend billions of dollars each year on track maintenance. With expenditures of this level, incremental improvements in planning or execution of maintenance projects can result in either substantial savings or the ability to complete more projects. Decision support tools can enhance maintenance planning efficiency and aid new railroad employees in evaluating alternatives while they gain experience. The primary purpose of this research is to enable objective evaluation of track maintenance options because the most efficient alternative is not always obvious. This study also aims to advance the theoretical understanding of how maintenance decisions affect the total cost of track ownership and operation. To fulfill these objectives, different aspects of railroad maintenance decision making are addressed through a series of research tasks. The first task is to develop an integrated framework for track maintenance planning that incorporates all aspects of the planning process over a network. An ideal framework will enable maintenance planners to better evaluate all aspects of the track system and select the most cost effective method of improving the track. The second task is to develop a methodology for determining the cost of train delay, which will enhance the understanding of how track maintenance and other service disruptions impact train operations. This methodology will allow for improved objective maintenance plans that incorporate all aspects of railroad operations. The third task will combine the results of the first two tasks to formalize an approach for optimally selecting track components or maintenance procedures to operate at the lowest cost. The final task will research the effects of aggregating maintenance activities on elongated maintenance windows. Understanding these consequences and when they are incurred allows for improved planning. This task will also develop an optimization procedure for scheduling aggregated maintenance activities.
Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented)
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated)
Web Links
Project Website
Final ReportNURail2012-UIUC-R14_Final_Report-revised-2016-10-07-R.pdf