National Center for Sustainable Transportation

Integrated Management of Truck and Rail Systems in Los Angeles

Project Number


Project Summary

This project establishes models to optimize the balance of freight demand across rail and truck modes. In real life situations, trains often travel at different speeds (i.e. passenger trains and freight trains share the same rail network). This incurs train delay whereby reducing the efficiency of the rail network. To provide a solution for this problem, the researchers develop heuristic algorithms to improve conventional dispatching rules to reduce the average train delay. Then they build a control model and provide the solution procedure to adapt a dynamic headway concept inspired by new signaling technology like Positive Train Control (PTC). Rail network data of the Southern California region is collected to perform a detailed simulation analysis. The simulation results show significant improvement of network efficiency brought by our model and algorithms: as high as 21% reduction in average train delay with our best dispatching policy while with the dynamic headway control model, the average train delay is reduced by 40%. The railway network is therefore shown to have the potential to increase throughput capacity by 20%.

Project Status




Topic Area

Sustainable Urban Freight

P.I. Name & Address

Professor, Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering; USC Viterbi School of Engineering
University of Southern California
3715 McClintock Ave.
Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center (GER) 206A
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0193
United States

Funding source: Volvo Research and Educational Foundation

Funding amount: $79,604

Start and end dates: 3/1/13 to 12/31/17

Link to report

Link to policy brief