June 18, 2019 – Biarri Rail and TasRail have been selected to jointly present a paper at AusRAIL PLUS on December 3-5, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. AusRAIL is the largest rail event in Australasia and is hosted each year by the Australasian Railway Association. Presenting will be George Bradley, COO for Biarri Rail, and James Macartney, Commercial and Business Planning Manager for TasRail.
The presentation will outline the success that Biarri Rail and TasRail have had in deploying an algorithmic service planning software system. TasRail selected Biarri in a competitive bid in 2017 to deliver an integrated and optimization-based planning system for train services, meet/pass planning, locomotives, wagons and crews.
It’s important to note that this is a joint presentation, since Biarri Rail and TasRail have worked very closely over the past 18 months to configure the system for TasRail, so that the application is integrated with their planning and operational processes. The system is now in production.
The solution delivered to TasRail is Biarri Rail’s Boss Rail Planning system, designed to meet the process requirements of TasRail and other railways that operate based on a repeating weekly master service design. Boss is also designed for the service planning needs of North American railroads and other large freight operations globally.
The cloud-based Boss is equipped with a suite of optimization algorithms that is able to quickly generate feasible and efficient plans, including specialized algorithms for integrated customer service design, wagon planning, locomotive planning, crew car balancing, train path conflict resolution, crew shift planning and crew rostering.
In any freight railroad, service design development is a complex task. It requires the planner to consider a diverse set of resources moving through a network over time, constrained by many network requirements and business rules. The AusRAIL presentation will describe the development and implementation of a set of algorithms to optimize the planning functions within this integrated software system.
Railroads have traditionally developed their master service designs using generic tools such as Microsoft Excel, pencil and paper, or basic drawing software. It would often take a railway several months and many specialized staff members to develop a complete master service design across a series of tools. To minimize planning effort, a new master service design would frequently be an incremental change upon a previous plan rather than “clean slate.”
Once completed, management would have little understanding of the relative efficiency of the plan and it would also be prohibitively time-consuming for a railway to model the efficiency of new business, planning decisions or constraints. Service plans that are developed with decision support systems, such as Boss, allow the railway to understand the economics and service impact of their decisions.
Rail planning is a true network problem, which needs to be solved with an integrated solution that concurrently considers all demands, resources and physical network constraints. Boss will enable TasRail to better understand and improve a master service design’s efficiency across network access, rolling stock, crew and fuel, ultimately lowering its operating costs.