TRB Annual Meeting 2018

TRB Annual Meeting 2018

I’m co-author for three papers at this year’s Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington DC (8-13 January 2018). Here’s a list and some links:

Feedforward Tactical Optimization for Energy-Efficient Operation of Freight Trains: Swiss Case
Valerio De Martinis, ETHZ – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Ambra Toletti, ETHZ – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Francesco Corman, ETH Zurich
Ulrich Weidmann, IVT ETH Zürich
Andrew Nash, Emch+Berger AG Bern

Application of a Cost-Allocation Model to Swiss Bus and Train lines
Marc Sinner, ETH Zurich
Ulrich Weidmann, IVT ETH Zürich
Andrew Nash, Emch+Berger AG Bern

Wireless Electric Propulsion Light Rail Transit Systems in Spain

Francisco Calvo, University of Granada, Spain
Andrew Nash, Emch+Berger AG Bern

TRB Annual Meeting 2017

TRB Annual Meeting 2017

I’m an author or co-author of six papers and presentations at the 2017 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington DC. Here is a list of the papers and presentations, with links for downloading several of the papers. Hope to see you in Washington!

Monday 9 January 2017

  • What’s a Bus? Defining Buses and Trains in the Age of Automation; Marc Sinner, ETH Zurich, Ulrich Weidmann, and Andrew Nash; Session 403, 1:30 pm, Convention Center 144-A.
  • Modeling Real-Time Communications-Based Train Control Operation in Mixed Traffic Networks: Simulation-Based Approach; Valerio De Martinis, ETH Zurich, Ambra Toletti, Ulrich Weidmann, and Andrew Nash; Session 471: Advances in Railroad Operating Technologies; 3:45 – 5:30 pm, Convention Center, Hall E (poster).
  • Using Banedanmark’s Traffic Management System to Develop Concept Timetable 2030; Andrew Nash, Emch+Berger AG Bern, Samuel Roos, Emch+Berger AG Bern, and Bernd Schittenhelm, Banedanmark / Rail Net Denmark; Session 471: Advances in Railroad Operating Technologies; 3:45 – 5:30 pm, Convention Center, Hall E (poster).

Tuesday 10 January 2017

  • How Crowdsourcing Can Help Public Transport Innovate Successfully in an Era of Rapid Change; Andrew Nash; Session 665: New Mobility Services, 1:30 – 3:15 pm, Convention Center, Hall E (poster).
  • A Proposed Method for Measuring Customer Orientation of Companies in the Freight Transport Sector; Albert Mancera, ETH Zürich, Thorsten Klaas, Ulrich Weidmann, Andrew Nash; Session 754: Current Research in Freight Planning and Logistics; 3:45 – 5:30 pm, Convention Center, Hall E (Poster).

Wednesday 11 January 2017

ETCS: The foundation for efficient and attractive railways

ETCS: The foundation for efficient and attractive railways


Banedanmark is installing ETCS on the Danish railway network. In addition to providing safety, data from the ETCS will be used in a new traffic control system (TMS) to improve the quality of railway service. Here’s a link to the article Dr. Felix Laube and I wrote about the advanced railway TMS being developed for Banedanmark. The article was just published in the Japanese railway journal: Rolling Stock & Technology (Number 231). They did a nice job including graphics from the presentation Dr. Laube made in Japan with the text.

ETCS: The foundation for efficient and attractive railways (Japanese)

ETCS: The foundation for efficient and attractive railways (English)

See also my presentation on Banedanmark’s TMS at TRB in January 2016 for more information and graphics.

Banedanmark TMS Presentation at TRB

Banedanmark TMS Presentation at TRB

Banedanmark, Denmark’s national railway infrastructure owner, is completely replacing the country’s railway signalling system with a European Rail Traffic Control System (ETCS). The digital data from the ETCS, combined with improved technologies for managing staff and resources, provides the foundation for developing an advanced TMS that can significantly improve railway efficiency and attractiveness.

Banedanmark’s TMS takes a fresh approach to railway operations by creating Production Plans consisting of precisely defined tasks to be carried-out in operating the railway. Production plans are developed based on a very clear definition of customer needs called Service Intentions. Banedanmark’s approach integrates planning and operations by using the same algorithms and data. It improves the precision of planning and provides updated Production Plans quickly enough to significantly reduce the impact of delays and disturbances.

I’m giving a presentation on Banedanmark’s new TMS project at the US Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting on Tuesday January 12, 2016. Here’s a link to my presentation: Banedanmark TMS: ETCS as the foundation for attractive and efficient railway service.

Night Train to Italy

Night Train Vienna to Brescia Italy 2012 - 18

Night Train Vienna to Brescia Italy 2012 - 03
Italian sleeping car (couchette)

I recently travelled to Brescia Italy on a business trip. I decided to take the night train since Brescia is right on the route between Vienna and Milan. My wife and I used to take the night train often between Zurich and Graz or Vienna, but it’s been a while since my last trip.

There’s lots of variation between night train services. The Italian night trains seem to be pretty spartan. On the trains between Zurich and Graz/Vienna you get breakfast and often a welcome drink, on the Italian train I just took, nothing. So be sure to bring your own snacks, water or other drinks – always good advice when traveling by train!

My trip was during the long cold spell we had at the end of January, and, unfortunately, after about an hour the sleeping car attendant realized that the heating in our car was not going to be working. So he moved us all into one of the other wagons. I had booked a single in the sleeping car and unfortunately there was only one sleeping car on the train. So I was moved into a couchette car.

Night Train Vienna to Brescia Italy 2012 - 06
Sleeping car single

There are two types of sleeping cars: a real sleeping car that has 1-3 fairly nice bunk beds and a sink in the compartment (Schlafwagen in German) or a couchette car that has 4-6 narrower bunks (with less nice bed linens: one of those sheet sacks with a blanket as opposed to a covered duvet) and no sink. There’s quite a difference in cost, but not as much as you might think. Also, note that you can usually get a couchette in a 4-person compartment or a 6-person compartment, always choose the 4-person, it’s only a little more expensive.

It was no fun to be in the couchette since the bed was only barely wide enough the lie flat and I hate the blankets/ sleeping sack arrangement, but at least it was warm. It was lucky that the train was fairly empty (a Monday night in January), so I still had a single.

We arrived on time in Brescia and I walked to my hotel where I had a wonderful breakfast and they let me check-in early, a real treat. An aside about breakfast, on the Zurich-Graz/Vienna night trains they used to give you a choice between having breakfast on the train or taking it with you (Austrian arrivals) or getting a voucher for breakfast in a restaurant in the Zurich train station. My recommendation: always get the breakfast to take with you or the voucher … you will get about a half-hour more sleep.

One more thing: in Austria when you have a sleeping car ticket you can go into the “Business Lounge” which they have in many stations. You can have a glass of wine or beer before your trip begins or breakfast (real coffee and a roll) in the morning. It’s another nice feature of traveling by sleeping car.

Night Train Vienna to Brescia Italy 2012 - 21
Vicenza station from my sleeping car bed.

I stayed one night in Brescia, and two days. The night train arrived at 7:30 am on Tuesday and I returned on the night train that left Brescia about 10:00 pm on Wednesday. The return train was nicer since the heating was working so I was able to have my single. Unfortunately, the train was delayed quite a bit (there was a snow storm), so we reached Vienna about 45-minutes late (9:20 am on Thursday).

I was inspired to write this by a nice article about Europe’s 8 best night trains on the Lonely Planet website.

More photos of my trip on the Italian night train on Flickr.

Graz Austria Main Train Station

Graz AT Hauptbahnhof - 4

Since my wife is from Wolfsberg Austria (Carinthia) we travel frequently through the Graz Hauptbahnhof on our way south. There are hourly trains from Vienna to Graz, but then the fun begins.

There is no train service between Graz and Wolfsberg, but there is an “Intercity Bus” which is not bad, about an hour nonstop between the cities operated approximately every two hours. Unfortunately the bus and the train schedules are almost perfectly uncoordinated.

The bus from Wolfsberg (and Klagenfurt) is scheduled to arrive one or two minutes after the train to Vienna leaves. So you need to hang around in Graz Hauptbahnhof for about an hour. In the other direction many of the buses also require a long wait (Friday we waited 57 minutes, since the bus leaves 3 minutes before the next train from Vienna arrives).

Graz AT Hauptbahnhof - 2

Perhaps the reason for this sloppy scheduling is that the buses used to leave a few minutes after the train from Vienna arrived. If the train from Vienna was at all late you missed your connection – then it’s almost two-hour wait until the next bus. The new system allows the train to be almost an hour late and you can still make the bus.

Another problem with the bus is that it is frequently overbooked at peak travel times like Friday and Sunday evenings. We were lucky last Friday and they put another bus into service, but we have also been forced to drive to Graz because the bus is full.

Graz AT Hauptbahnhof - 3
You may think – like the sign at the right says – “Missed your train? Great, you can have a coffee at the station” – but I don’t know many people who think “Great” about missing their train. Yes, it is great that the station has restaurants and shops, but my goal is to get somewhere not to spend time in the station.

Oh, and one more thing as long as I’m ranting. You need to pay to go to the restroom in Graz! Why can’t railway stations – especially railway stations with shopping centres – have free restrooms? I can’t think of an automobile-based shopping centre that has restrooms where you need to pay. I understand that railway stations seem to attract people with social problems, but deal with the problems, don’t make everyone pay. (Especially if you have restaurants serving coffee and beer!) By the way, the problem is not unique to Graz, they also charge for the restrooms in Vienna and Zurich.

Graz AT Hauptbahnhof - 1

This kind of sloppy scheduling and lack of attention to providing basic customer amenities causes people to drive. Why put up with the hassles of railway travel?

Poor service is especially dumb on this route because the Austrian government is spending about 4 Billion Euros on a tunnel that will replace the bus with rail service; they should be doing everything possible to build up demand on this route so that when the tunnel is finished people will be used to taking public transport. Instead people like us will probably have bought a car since the drive from Vienna is about 3 hours and the train takes 4 and a half hours with the bad connection.

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