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Railway timetabling using Lagrangian relaxation. (English) Zbl 1004.90035
Summary: We present a novel optimization approach for the timetabling problem of a railway company, i.e., scheduling of a set of trains to obtain a profit maximizing timetable, while not violating track capacity constraints. The scheduling decisions are based on estimates of the value of running different types of service at specified times. We model the problem as a very large integer programming problem. The model is flexible in that it allows for general cost functions. We have used a Lagrangian relaxation solution approach, in which the track capacity constraints are relaxed and assigned prices, so that the problem separates into one dynamic program for each physical train. The number of dual variables is very large. However, it turns out that only a small fraction of these are nonzero, which one may take advantage of in the dual updating schemes. The approach has been tested on a realistic example suggested by the Swedish National Railway Administration. This example contains 18 passenger trains and 8 freight trains to be scheduled during a day on a stretch of single track, consisting of 17 stations. The computation times are rather modest and the obtained timetables are within a few percent of optimality.

MSC:
90B35 Deterministic scheduling theory in operations research
49M30 Other numerical methods in calculus of variations (MSC2010)
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