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February 16, 2011

Train scheduling algorithm optimized for shorter commuter travel times can shorten average trips from 60 to 48 minutes

Dr. Tal Raviv and his graduate student have developed a tool that makes passenger train journeys shorter, especially when transfers are involved — a computer-based system to shave precious travel minutes off a passenger's journey.

Dr. Raviv's solution, the "Service Oriented Timetable," relies on computers and complicated algorithms to do the scheduling. "Our solution is useful for any metropolitan region where passengers are transferring from one train to another, and where train service providers need to ensure that the highest number of travellers can make it from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible.


"Let's say you commute to Manhattan from New Jersey every day. We can find a way to synchronize trains to minimize the average travel time of passengers," says Dr. Raviv. "That will make people working in New York a lot happier."

The project has already been simulated on the Israel Railway, reducing the average travel time per commuter from 60 to 48 minutes. The tool can be most useful in countries and cities, he notes, where train schedules are robust and very complicated.

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