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Application of Predictive Analytics for Shunting Yard Delays

Time: Thu 2023-06-15 13.00

Location: Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, Stockholm

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Language: English

Subject area: Transport Science, Transport Systems

Doctoral student: Niloofar Minbashi , Transportplanering, Train Traffic and Logistics

Opponent: Professor Paola Pellegrini, Gustave Eiffel University

Supervisor: Docent, visiting professor Markus Bohlin, Transportplanering; Doctor Behzad Kordnejad, Transportplanering; Assistant Professor Carl-William Palmqvist, Transportplanering, Division of Transport and Roads, Department of Technology and Society, Lund University

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QC 20230522


Increasing the modal share of rail freight transport is one of the main ways to achieve carbon neutrality in Europe. The perceived low reliability and predictability of rail freight services is one of the main challenges to overcome in reaching this target. Shunting yards play an important role in providing more reliable and predictable freight trains. Shunting yard departure deviations impact other trains on mixed-traffic railway networks. Predictable departures from shunting yards increase the overall predictability of freight train runs along the network.

The primary focus of this thesis is on how to apply data-driven approaches to increase the predictability of shunting yard departures. Descriptive analytics were used to provide enhanced insight into shunting yard departures, and predictive analytics were applied to develop shunting yard departure deviation prediction models. Finally, hybrid modeling was used to integrate the yard departure prediction model with other simulation models for wider application. The results from this thesis contribute to providing a deeper understanding of shunting yard departure deviations, interactions between shunting yards and the network through departure and arrival deviations, and how to model these deviations by applying data-driven approaches. These results from five published research papers are included and presented in this doctoral thesis.

Descriptive analytics methods are applied in papers I and II to explore the probability distribution of departure deviations and the impact of the network on departure delays. The results show that positive and negative departure deviations have different distributions for different shunting yards. Moreover, network usage fluctuations over shorter timespans impact departure delays, whereas no correlation is established between network impact, defined as congestion in the arrival yard, and departure delays.

Predictive analytics is applied in paper III by developing tree-based algorithms to classify the status of shunting yard departures. The departure status are imbalanced; the majority are early, and the minority are delayed. The results show that applying methods to overcome imbalanced data sets can improve the prediction of delayed departures.

The models developed in paper III are extended in papers IV and V to predict departure deviations in a combined modeling approach for two separate applications. In paper IV, a machine learning-assisted macro simulation model framework is introduced to integrate yard departure predictions into a macro simulation network model and predict the arrivals to the next yard. The results show improved prediction accuracy compared to a basic machine learning model and a baseline timetable model.

Finally, in paper V, the generalization of the yard departure prediction model is explored by applying a simulation-assisted machine learning modeling approach where the model is trained on real-world European yard data and North American simulation yard data. The results show the model has a notable generalized performance with both data types.