Simulation of Yard and Terminal Operations
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In its simplest form, the operations of a railroad can be split into two disciplines: line-of-road operations and terminal operations. Some traffic, especially that moving in unit bulk, intermodal or automotive trains, will see few terminals between origin and destination, while traffic often termed “general merchandise” may visit several terminals en-route. Management devotes the largest amount of analytic effort to line-of-road operations, and tools exist for its analysis. Unfortunately, while terminal operations, including freight car classification activities, consume roughly 2/3 of railcar time—versus 1/3 for line of road—there are few tools to analyze terminal operations. This accounts, at least in part, for the limited capital investment railroads make in improving classification facilities. Most railroads and many consulting firms have staffs dedicated to using tools to analyze line-of-road operation and justify capital improvements; few similar efforts exist for terminal operations.