Decreasing impact of extreme weather in latest rail project

The Centre for Modelling and Simulation (CFMS) leads latest rail project to transform train operations. The Timetable Optimisation for Extreme Weather project, launched in October 2023, is taking a significant step towards decreasing the negative impact of extreme weather events, reducing delays and improving passenger service.

The project is funded by the Department for Transport through the First Of A Kind 2023 competition, delivered by Innovate UK. CFMS is demonstrating a unique tool for rapidly producing optimised train timetables to minimise disruption during extreme weather events, delivering a step change in the way in which train operating companies respond to their increasing occurrence.

When heat waves, heavy rain and flooding are forecast, temporary speed restrictions and line closures could be imposed by Network Rail, affecting train operating companies. This usually leaves planning teams with a short period to produce the adapted timetables, sometimes leading to an overall reduction in train operations and delays on the remaining services, which could incur financial penalty payments for the train operating companies and reduced service for passengers.

To tackle this challenge, CFMS is developing a digital tool, which will be validated on data provided by the collaborative partners. Using parallel, distributed optimisation techniques coupled with high performance computing (HPC), CFMS can perform rapid automated timetable optimisation for extreme weather events.

Upon completion of the project, a demonstrative event will showcase the capabilities of the new disruptive technology developed, highlighting its quantitative benefits for both the train operating companies and the passengers. This technology can be scaled for more widespread benefits and further accelerates industrial innovation within the rail industry.

Alex Ballisat, project technical lead said: “The work being undertaken in this project has the potential to revolutionise rail timetable design and have a big impact on customer experience. We at CFMS bring the combination of digital modelling and HPC expertise to facilitate this innovation.”

CFMS is a recognised, commercially secure data centre provider with an established reputation for developing cutting-edge digital technologies for industrial innovation.

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