Empty Railcar Distribution

  • Michael F. GormanEmail author
Part of the International Series in Operations Research & Management Science book series (ISOR, volume 222)


Each year in North America, approximately 30 million carloads are shipped via rail in “general merchandise” or carload service (AAR 2012). In each case, the railroad must deliver a rail-owned empty railcar (such as a box car, gondola, or hopper depending on the commodity) to the origin of the shipper to begin loading. (This process does not apply to private fleets owned and managed by the shipper, as is common for some car types such as tank cars.) After the loaded railcar is delivered to the shipper’s destination and emptied, the rail car is released back to the railroads’ custody and the cycle begins again. The challenge of repositioning a multitude of rail-owned railcars to various origins is known as the empty railcar distribution problem.


Customer Order Trip Plan Approximate Dynamic Programming Shipping Pattern General Merchandise 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Operations ManagementUniversity of Dayton School of BusinessUSA

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