March 30, 2021

Staying on Track: Resilient Rail Operations

Let’s face it: running safe and efficient trains is no walk in…
Avatar Jason Gardiner
Rail operations manager.

Let’s face it: running safe and efficient rail operations is no walk in the park. Your planning team did a great job juggling shift preferences, complex regulations and labor rules; all while still meeting the needs of your stakeholders. If things go according to plan, the service planners, rolling stock dispatchers and crew dispatchers should be kicking back and seeing “all greens” on their screen.

However, a solid plan of execution is only the start of the day; plans could go awry at any moment. Employees could have last-minute personal emergencies and require ad hoc leave, or signaling failures cause a busy line to be closed. Legacy planning systems are often inadequate for keeping up with the mind-boggling number of decisions that rail operators need to make all the time, especially when things don’t go as planned.

Read on to discover the key planning and scheduling capabilities modern train operating companies like NTV, SBB, Green Cargo, and Thalys apply. Ensure safe, efficient and resilient operations.

Visibility in Rail Enables Agile Response to Disruptions

Passenger railway station in Asia.

Disruptions are inevitable, but not insurmountable when rail operators arm themselves with the correct information and tools to take prompt action. Disruptive events can cause train services to be added, cancelled or delayed; feeding this information back to operators immediately allows them to take action sooner and reduce the propagation effect.

For operators to resolve disruptive events in the shortest time possible, information needs to be not just visible, but actionable too. Being able to foresee and analyze the consequences of all possible courses of action is what enables operators to resolve disruptions while minimizing the impact on other related areas such as train schedules, work rosters, maintenance and passenger compensation.

Balance Workforce Needs with Business Goals

Legacy planning systems lack the flexibility to effectively accommodate last-minute changes to employee rosters, which often results in expensive unnecessary overtime and reduced crew satisfaction. Next to disruptions, employees might have preferences for specific shifts and may want to swap their morning or noon shifts with their co-workers to accommodate their specific personal situation.

It’s important that your workforce planning can handle these events quickly and efficiently — from finding replacements to ensuring sufficient staff to cover demand for the day while meeting all labor rules and employee preferences.

Optimization provides crew planners and dispatchers with the decision support needed to accommodate for the mind-boggling number of rules and constraints, and gives modern train operating companies the capacity to take staff personal preferences into account from the planning stage. World class optimization algorithms combined with the planner’s expertise enables planners to make the best adjustments to the work roster with minimal disruption to other employees’ schedules. With rail crew working shifts that best suit their preferences, operators will find increased productivity from a more satisfied workforce.

Fully Optimized Rail Workforce

Passenger rail workforce employees.

Ideally, an intelligent planning solution would capture all the details of your complex and dynamic environment to deliver fully optimized plans. Your planners would then be free to focus on aligning company operations with your business goals while disruptions can be swiftly handled to minimize their impact. These are now realistically achievable goals thanks to DELMIA’s solutions for rail operations.

With DELMIA, operators can create schedules that comply with labor regulations, satisfy employee preferences and achieve business KPIs while having the flexibility to optimally resolve disruptions on a day-to-day basis.

Rail Operations Software

Key capabilities that DELMIA solution for rail operations includes, are:

  • Demand-driven workforce planning: Always have the right number of employees with the right skills on duty
  • Mathematical optimization: Always find the best solution for your specific business goals
  • Automatic compliance with rules and regulations: Avoids expensive regulatory violations
  • Multi-resource planning: Optimally integrates schedules for employees and fleet
  • Empower employees: More employee control through mobile self-service access
  • KPI-based planning and what-if scenarios: Aligns operations with business goals

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