Replacing Part or All of a Delivery Network by a Periodic Rail Line

Replacing Part or All of a Delivery Network by a Periodic Rail Line


Toni Erfurth, Jacobs University, Julia Bendul, Jacobs University


This paper examines systematically the impact of periodic elements, such as rail transport, in supply chain concepts on the logistics performance in terms of transportation time and transport time reliability by means of a discrete-event simulation.


This paper examines the impact of replacing a part or all of a delivery network via road by a periodic rail line on transportation time and transport time reliability.

In recent years the role of sustainable and alternative transportation concepts has significantly grown in importance due to an accelerated globalization process. Consistently different industries understand intermodal transportation as key to successfully implement global sourcing and emerging market strategies. In these global logistics concepts periodic rail and maritime transports appear as bundling und thus synchronizing elements. However, so far there has been no systematic analysis of the effect of these periodic and synchronizing transport elements on logistics performance. Thus, the goal of this research is to analyze the effect of these synchronizing elements in terms of frequencies, distances and modal shares as well as different arrival distributions on performance parameters such as transportation time and transport time reliability, to eventually derive recommendations for future transportation system design.

The literature on transport time reliability focuses mainly on transport network design and transport routing, while according literature with regard to intermodal freight transport primary discusses scheduling solutions for container terminals. However existing research works lack in transport planning approaches with respect to transport time reliability that consider multiple modes of transport and their characteristics.

In this paper a model is proposed to describe a delivery process from a supplier to a customer either via road transportation only or by replacing part or all of it by a periodic rail line. In a first step of a twofold development process a basic model representing a one time delivery is introduced to explain the relationships between the single variables. Towards a broader context and a more realistic scope of application the model is extended in a second step to reproduce the case of continuous deliveries between a supplier and a customer. For both steps an analytical model is derived that contains the transportation time as well as the transport time reliability. Based on this a discrete-event simulation model is developed and subsequently compared to the results of the analytical model.

This paper shows that the transportation time can both be positively and negatively affected by replacing part of the delivery by a periodic rail line and is dependent on the velocity ratio of truck to train and the distance covered by train. However the transport time reliability can be generally improved by an increasing share of rail transportation. Furthermore it is illustrated to what extent the transport time reliability is affected by varying several variables.

Conclusively, the paper addresses the void in literature by providing an analytical and a simulation model to evaluate the effect of intermodal transportation via road and rail as well as the influence of designated variables on the transport planned. Thus, this paper will be beneficial for transportation planners as it contributes to a better understanding of the consequences resulting from different modal shares, here rail and road, and the influencing variables that need to be considered.


Association for European Transport