Integrated Modeling of High Performance Passenger and Freight Train Operation Planning on Shared Use Rail Corridors: A Focus on the US Context

Shared Corridor GraphPassenger rail has been resurging in the United States over the past decade. Amtrak, the primary intercity rail service provider in the US, has witnessed continuous ridership growth (except for 2009 due to the economic recession) from 20.9 million to 31.6 million passengers, or 51.1% increase, between 2000 and 2013 (Amtrak, 2013). To sustain this trend which promotes sustainability and multimodality at the same time in inter-city travel, several states have been pursuing higher performance rail systems, in the forms of High Speed Rail (HSR) services on new or existing corridors.  The higher speed trains often share the use of tracks with freight trains, and the tracks are, in most cases, owned and maintained by freight railroads. The mixed operations give rise to the issue of capacity constraints, as manifested by the non-trivial delays reported by Amtrak and freight trains on shared use corridors.

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Principal Investigator(s):

Bo Zou


Bo Zou
Ahmedreza Talebian




This paper studies strategic level train operation planning on shared use passenger and freight rail corridors.  We explicitly consider passenger schedule delay and freight foregone demand as a function of train schedules, which are largely ignored in previous research. In particular, incorporating passenger schedule delay makes the passenger train scheduling a quadratic integer programming problem.


Researchers explored different solution approaches and concluded that a modified linearized formulation which takes advantage of the special structure of the problem achieves superior computational performance. The model is applied to a sample problem and a real-world shared use corridor in the US.

Expected Results or Products:

With comprehensive consideration of realistic values for different cost components involved and the fact that passenger trains are given scheduling priority over freight trains on shared corridors in the US, researchers developed a hypergraph based, two-level modeling approach in which passenger and freight side costs are sequentially minimized.


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Bo Zou
Urban Transportation Center
University of Illinois at Chicago
412 South Peoria Street, Suite 340
Chicago, IL 60607
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Illinois Department of Transportation
Metropolitan Transportation Support Initiative (METSI)

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