Track Allocation in Freight-Train Classification with Mixed Tracks

Authors Markus Bohlin, Holger Flier, Jens Maue, Matús Mihalák

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Markus Bohlin
Holger Flier
Jens Maue
Matús Mihalák

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Markus Bohlin, Holger Flier, Jens Maue, and Matús Mihalák. Track Allocation in Freight-Train Classification with Mixed Tracks. In 11th Workshop on Algorithmic Approaches for Transportation Modelling, Optimization, and Systems. Open Access Series in Informatics (OASIcs), Volume 20, pp. 38-51, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2011)


We consider the process of forming outbound trains from cars of inbound trains at rail-freight hump yards. Given the arrival and departure times as well as the composition of the trains, we study the problem of allocating classification tracks to outbound trains such that every outbound train can be built on a separate classification track. We observe that the core problem can be formulated as a special list coloring problem in interval graphs, which is known to be NP-complete. We focus on an extension where individual cars of different trains can temporarily be stored on a special subset of the tracks. This problem induces several new variants of the list-coloring problem, in which the given intervals can be shortened by cutting off a prefix of the interval. We show that in case of uniform and sufficient track lengths, the corresponding coloring problem can be solved in polynomial time, if the goal is to minimize the total cost associated with cutting off prefixes of the intervals. Based on these results, we devise two heuristics as well as an integer program to tackle the problem. As a case study, we consider a real-world problem instance from the Hallsberg Rangerbangard hump yard in Sweden. Planning over horizons of seven days, we obtain feasible solutions from the integer program in all scenarios, and from the heuristics in most scenarios.
  • algorithms
  • complexity
  • graph theory
  • railways
  • scheduling
  • shunting
  • train classification
  • train marshalling
  • transportation


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