One of the major railway research thrusts within the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center
(RailTEC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is systems research related
to improving the capacity and efficiency of the rail network. Demand for freight transportation
will continue to increase in the future. At the same time, there continues to be strong support
for expanded commuter and intercity passenger rail services operating at higher speeds on more
frequent schedules. The need to handle growing levels of both heavy-axle-load freight trains
and higher-speed passenger trains on the same infrastructure can strain the capacity of the rail
network, resulting in delay, unreliable services and losses in efficiency. Maintaining a high
level of service under anticipated freight and passenger traffic volumes will require changes in
operating strategies and infrastructure investment. Making these changes and investments in an
optimal manner requires a thorough understanding of the fundamental relationships between track
infrastructure, traffic levels, train characteristics, level of service and operating efficiency.
The research of the RailTEC Systems, Capacity and Efficiency team seeks to increase knowledge of
these fundamental rail system relationships.
The RailTEC System Capacity and Efficiency team makes extensive use of rail network simulation
using Rail Traffic Controller (RTC) software from Berkeley Simulation. The de facto North American
standard rail simulation standard, RTC is used by multiple Class 1 Freight Railroads, passenger
operators and consulting firms to model railway operating plans and investigate capital expansion
projects. RTC emulates real dispatcher decisions in moving trains across a rail network while generating
performance and efficiency statistics. RailTEC researchers supplement RTC data with statistical
analysis software and other train performance calculation tools to develop analytical and statistical
models of rail system behavior to better support industry decisions.
Current Research Projects (Funding Source)
Current Research Sponsors