Technical Report 2006-024

Control Strategies for Managing Train Traffic, Difficulties Today and Solutions for the Future

Arvid Kauppi, Johan Wikström, Bengt Sandblad, and Arne W. Andersson

May 2006


In 1996, on initiative from the Swedish National Rail Administration, the department of Human-Computer Interaction at the institute for Information Technology, Uppsala University initiated a research project with the objective to identify the difficulties present in today's train traffic control today and to find solutions to those problems, if possible.

This paper describes the strategy used to control train traffic in Sweden today. Problems and difficulties inherited from the use of the current control strategies and systems are presented. With the goal to solve these problems, and aid the human operator in their work, solutions for new principles for control and a new control strategy are proposed - control by re-planning. The proposed control strategy is designed to support the train dispatcher to work in a more preventive manner and thereby avoiding potential disturbances in traffic when possible. The focus of control tasks will be shifted from controlling infrastructure on a technical level to focus more on a higher level of controlling the traffic flow through re-planning tasks. The new control strategy in combination with a new approach to automation, higher availability of decision relevant information and new graphical user interfaces addresses many of the issues and problems found in the control environment today.

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