Excess probability of dwell time delays from train meets and passes

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We introduce a novel measure of how a factor influences train delays: the excess probability of delays. Using some 50 million observations across two years of railway operations in Sweden we then investigate the role of train meets and passes in explaining dwell time delays, which are known from previous research to be behind most train delays. About 4% of observed train movements include either meets or passes at stations, with the former being much more frequent. On average, they are associated with a 30%-points higher probability of delay, more than double the baseline rate of 25%. Accounting for their frequency, this adds about 1%-point to the probability of dwell time delays, or about 4% of existing dwell time delays. As expected, these delays are mostly concentrated on single-track lines with relatively dense operations. Considering that the railway sector is mature and under pressure to cost-effectively improve both capacity and punctuality, these results suggest an encouraging potential for improvement. Reducing the probability of delays even by a single percentage point would be valuable, and quantifying this contribution is helpful when prioritising resources and measures across issues and geographies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100298
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Rail Transport Planning and Management
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this research has been provided by the Swedish Transport Administration , grants TRV2018/139443 and TRV2020/119576 . Raw data used in the study was also kindly provided by the Swedish Transport Administration. The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Tiong Kah Yong in compiling a list of relevant literature for the introduction, and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments to an earlier version of this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Transport Systems and Logistics

Free keywords

  • Delays
  • Punctuality
  • Railway
  • Train interaction


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