An Integrated Model for the Evaluation and Planning of Railroad Track Maintenance


Each year the North American Class 1 railroads spend billions of dollars on track maintenance. Even a small percentage reduction in maintenance costs, could save the railroads millions of dollars. Of course this is only feasible if cost reductions can be accomplished without decreasing the safety, utility, and robustness of the railroad track infrastructure. One way to reduce maintenance costs is to implement an effective preventative maintenance plan, which can allow for advanced scheduling of maintenance activities and more effective prevention of service disruptions. To assist railroads in developing such plans, a preventative maintenance planning model was developed. The model can assist in the identification, selection, and scheduling of maintenance activities to allow for an optimal balance between conducting preventative maintenance early before issues arise and deferring maintenance activities until critical risk thresholds are met or exceeded. This optimal balance is achieved by the model while considering budgetary constraints, resource constraints, and the geographic distribution of projects and resources across the rail network over an appropriate time horizon. The model consists of three modules: track degradation, project identification and evaluation, and maintenance scheduling. This paper will describe the framework of this model along with the structure and workings of the component modules.