Control of Railway Operation on Open Access Networks
One of the key elements of the reformation of European railways is the introduction of open access. Current discussions on that topic concentrate almost entirely on economic and financial issues of open access. But the introduction of open access will also have a significant effect on the way the operation of a railway is being planned and controlled. Following the directives of the EU legislatures, the introduction of open access was combined with separating two types of railway companies—infrastructure operators and train operating companies. The product that is sold by the infrastructure operator and bought by the train operating companies is the so-called train path. This principle has a great influence on scheduling, which is in charge of the infrastructure operator. In the scheduling process, the task of the infrastructure operator is the detailed calculation and allocation of train paths in accordance with the orders of the train operating companies. This requires advanced computer-based scheduling systems that can calculate the train paths in the so-called blocking time model. When conflicts between the train paths of different train operating companies are found, a solution has to be developed. In a run-ning operation, dispatchers may alter the timetable to keep the traffic running. However, they have to do this with respect to the operational needs of the train operating compa-nies. This requires powerful information systems to exchange traffic data between the control centres of the infrastructure operator and the train operating companies.
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