Title: An application of dynamic programming to crew balancing at Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway

Authors: Michael F. Gorman, Majid Sarrafzadeh

Addresses: Planning and Operations Research, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation, 777 Main Street, Fort Worth, TX 76102, USA. Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Northwestern University, 1936 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208, USA

Abstract: A dynamic programming based heuristic is used to solve the crew balancing problem for freight rail. The model finds an optimal solution to the basic crew balancing problem, then uses heuristic adjustment for special circumstances surrounding particularities in crew management. In practice, model results are presented to the end user for approval or modification before their enactment. With accurate information, we estimate the potential for savings of 4% of total crew deadhead and heldaway costs. When subjected to inaccurate forecasts typically experienced, however, the deterministic model performs worse than current practices. We make suggestions for dealing with the uncertainties of forecasted train arrival and departure times in order to produce more implementable results.

Keywords: crew scheduling; freight rail; dynamic programming; heuristic; uncertainty.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSTM.2000.001571

International Journal of Services Technology and Management, 2000 Vol.1 No.2/3, pp.174-187

Available online: 04 Jul 2003 *

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