The Effects of Competitive Capacity Allocation on UK Railway Timetabling

The Effects of Competitive Capacity Allocation on UK Railway Timetabling


A Boodoo, Steer Davies Gleave; D Gillingwater, R Watson, Loughborough University, UK



Railways throughout Europe suffer from the fact that there is more demand for train paths on their networks than they are able to provide, requiring decisions to be made over how and whether to accommodate this demand. Investment in enhancing capacity may be an option, but it is more cost effective to ensure that the timetables adopted are structured to meet demand as well as possible.

The paper uses the authors? recent research in this area to discuss the method of capacity allocation and timetabling used on the UK national network (excluding Northern Ireland, whose state owned railway is independent of those on the mainland) and sets out a business process model, including the relationships between the various organisations involved. The paper reports on the findings from a series of interviews with stakeholders in the timetabling process, revealing key contentions and problems with the current system, how they are overcome, and the practical differences between the theory and practice of the timetabling process. The picture is brought up to date through a discussion of how the UK is implementing 2001/14 and recent changes in responsibilities, with the Strategic Rail Authority taking a bigger role in setting priorities.

Finally the paper will examine current and possible future changes to timetabling processes that might resolve some of the problems uncovered and enable timetables to be developed that make better use of the available capacity.


Association for European Transport