WIT Press

Impact of faster freight trains on railway capacity and operational quality


Free (open access)


Volume 4 (2020), Issue 3



Page Range

274 - 285

Paper DOI



WIT Press


Jakob Geischberger & Michael Moensters


In view of the transition towards climate-friendly transportation, mobility and freight traffic demand are both expected to grow in europe’s already heavily occupied railway networks. to accommodate the increasing traffic volume, capacity-optimised traffic planning is a requirement. one key factor in this context is the heterogeneity of train speeds on heavily used mixed-traffic railway lines. In this paper, we study the effects of train speed harmonisation based on the increase of freight train velocities. two planning scenarios are addressed: in the first case, freight trains have a conventional speed profile but can occasionally make use of their higher allowed speed level when needed. this can be used in operations to recover from delays or blend in with passenger traffic. In the second case, freight trains are scheduled to so-called ‘express train paths’ – reaching a more homogeneous timetable profile. the two planning concepts are analysed and compared in a microscopic simulation approach. It is shown that scenarios based on the first planning concept tend to have positive effects on operational quality and capacity, whereas scenarios using ‘express freight train paths’ are less promising in this respect.


express freight trains, microscopic simulation, punctuality, railway capacity.