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Modelling and solving train scheduling problems under capacity constraints

Liu, Shi-Qiang (2008) Modelling and solving train scheduling problems under capacity constraints. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

Many large coal mining operations in Australia rely heavily on the rail network to transport coal from mines to coal terminals at ports for shipment. Over the last few years, due to the fast growing demand, the coal rail network is becoming one of the worst industrial bottlenecks in Australia. As a result, this provides great incentives for pursuing better optimisation and control strategies for the operation of the whole rail transportation system under network and terminal capacity constraints. This PhD research aims to achieve a significant efficiency improvement in a coal rail network on the basis of the development of standard modelling approaches and generic solution techniques. Generally, the train scheduling problem can be modelled as a Blocking Parallel- Machine Job-Shop Scheduling (BPMJSS) problem. In a BPMJSS model for train scheduling, trains and sections respectively are synonymous with jobs and machines and an operation is regarded as the movement/traversal of a train across a section. To begin, an improved shifting bottleneck procedure algorithm combined with metaheuristics has been developed to efficiently solve the Parallel-Machine Job- Shop Scheduling (PMJSS) problems without the blocking conditions. Due to the lack of buffer space, the real-life train scheduling should consider blocking or hold-while-wait constraints, which means that a track section cannot release and must hold a train until the next section on the routing becomes available. As a consequence, the problem has been considered as BPMJSS with the blocking conditions. To develop efficient solution techniques for BPMJSS, extensive studies on the nonclassical scheduling problems regarding the various buffer conditions (i.e. blocking, no-wait, limited-buffer, unlimited-buffer and combined-buffer) have been done. In this procedure, an alternative graph as an extension of the classical disjunctive graph is developed and specially designed for the non-classical scheduling problems such as the blocking flow-shop scheduling (BFSS), no-wait flow-shop scheduling (NWFSS), and blocking job-shop scheduling (BJSS) problems. By exploring the blocking characteristics based on the alternative graph, a new algorithm called the topological-sequence algorithm is developed for solving the non-classical scheduling problems. To indicate the preeminence of the proposed algorithm, we compare it with two known algorithms (i.e. Recursive Procedure and Directed Graph) in the literature. Moreover, we define a new type of non-classical scheduling problem, called combined-buffer flow-shop scheduling (CBFSS), which covers four extreme cases: the classical FSS (FSS) with infinite buffer, the blocking FSS (BFSS) with no buffer, the no-wait FSS (NWFSS) and the limited-buffer FSS (LBFSS). After exploring the structural properties of CBFSS, we propose an innovative constructive algorithm named the LK algorithm to construct the feasible CBFSS schedule. Detailed numerical illustrations for the various cases are presented and analysed. By adjusting only the attributes in the data input, the proposed LK algorithm is generic and enables the construction of the feasible schedules for many types of non-classical scheduling problems with different buffer constraints. Inspired by the shifting bottleneck procedure algorithm for PMJSS and characteristic analysis based on the alternative graph for non-classical scheduling problems, a new constructive algorithm called the Feasibility Satisfaction Procedure (FSP) is proposed to obtain the feasible BPMJSS solution. A real-world train scheduling case is used for illustrating and comparing the PMJSS and BPMJSS models. Some real-life applications including considering the train length, upgrading the track sections, accelerating a tardy train and changing the bottleneck sections are discussed. Furthermore, the BPMJSS model is generalised to be a No-Wait Blocking Parallel- Machine Job-Shop Scheduling (NWBPMJSS) problem for scheduling the trains with priorities, in which prioritised trains such as express passenger trains are considered simultaneously with non-prioritised trains such as freight trains. In this case, no-wait conditions, which are more restrictive constraints than blocking constraints, arise when considering the prioritised trains that should traverse continuously without any interruption or any unplanned pauses because of the high cost of waiting during travel. In comparison, non-prioritised trains are allowed to enter the next section immediately if possible or to remain in a section until the next section on the routing becomes available. Based on the FSP algorithm, a more generic algorithm called the SE algorithm is developed to solve a class of train scheduling problems in terms of different conditions in train scheduling environments. To construct the feasible train schedule, the proposed SE algorithm consists of many individual modules including the feasibility-satisfaction procedure, time-determination procedure, tune-up procedure and conflict-resolve procedure algorithms. To find a good train schedule, a two-stage hybrid heuristic algorithm called the SE-BIH algorithm is developed by combining the constructive heuristic (i.e. the SE algorithm) and the local-search heuristic (i.e. the Best-Insertion- Heuristic algorithm). To optimise the train schedule, a three-stage algorithm called the SE-BIH-TS algorithm is developed by combining the tabu search (TS) metaheuristic with the SE-BIH algorithm. Finally, a case study is performed for a complex real-world coal rail network under network and terminal capacity constraints. The computational results validate that the proposed methodology would be very promising because it can be applied as a fundamental tool for modelling and solving many real-world scheduling problems.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 37181
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Kozan, Erhan& Anh, Vo
Keywords: Railroads Train dispatching, Railroads Management, Scheduling Mathematical models, thesis, doctoral
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > Mathematical Sciences
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 22 Sep 2010 23:07
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2012 11:17

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