Risk-Based Model for Effective Marshalling of Dangerous Goods Railway Cars
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Today, railroad companies transport many varieties of dangerous goods (DG). Train derailments, especially those involving DG, can be catastrophic in terms of loss of life and environmental damage. In North America, the transportation of DG is governed by regulations published by the Canadian and United State's governments. While the regulation is important in terms of providing overall guidelines, they do not address the problem of optimally positioning DG cars in terms of their potential for derailment and the associated risks. Currently, most rail yard operations do not consider the potential effect of the position of DG cars on the risk of derailment. This research is concerned with the problem of how to place DG cars in a train in the train assembly process so that the overall derailment risk can be minimized. The approach considers both the probability of railway cars derailing en route by position as well as the time associated with additional operations in the rail yard. This work has resulted in a useful decision support tool for assisting rail yard operation managers to achieve an optimum trade-off between derailment risk and operating costs in assembling trains. The merits of this new car placement model are illustrated through a case study of a real railway corridor that connects Barstow Yard in California to Corwith Yard in Chicago over 2100 miles and involves a range of track features. The case study demonstrates that the proposed risk minimization strategy could be implemented with minimal rail yard operation cost.