Integrated Network Capacity Analysis for Freight Railroads
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Integrated Network Capacity Analysis for Freight Railroads

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    Rail network capacity analysis should consider all network infrastructures in an integrated way, with the challenges of the nonlinear relationships at each network element, a link or a node, and complexity of the interaction between various network elements. In another NURail project, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) researchers are developing models to represent capacities and the relationship between flows and dwell-times at classification yards based on yard features through both simulation and theoretical analysis. In the past, the researchers have also developed several rail freight assignment tools based on links capacity, represented by linear or piece-wise linear functions. There is a need to incorporate the new yard capacity submodel into network analysis tools to identify network bottlenecks. The tools are expected to be able to make capacity expansion recommendations based on systematic benefit-cost analysis under various traffic demand scenarios. The objective of this research is to develop models and algorithms to systematically analyze freight rail network capacity based on terminal capacity submodels (products out of the previous project) and link capacity submodels (mainly from literature) along with their interactions. Computational burden is expected to be a big challenge because of the large network size and nonlinearity of capacity submodels, both at yards and links. This research will investigate the trade-off between the simplicity and practicability of models and algorithms and focus on the system integration. The research team will work together with Norfolk Southern during model development and verification. In addition to the research, this project will incorporate the results in the course of CE 595 Design of Railway Transportation Systems to demonstrate to students the importance of railways in freight movement and the need for future investment in the railway network to meet freight demand.
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