The Dutch railway sector is a complex infrastructural network in which both technical factors and human factors determine the capacity that can be generated. As technically the Dutch railways are highly utilised, optimisations should include human aspects.
For ProRail, the Dutch railway infrastructure management company, we explored the potential of using gaming simulation as a tool to explore complex socio-technical issues, and to test new coordination and communication concepts before implementation.
As of 2009, the focus is on three different projects within ProRail that span the width of project types that could benefit from using gaming simulation methods. The first one is centered around the cargo capacity allocation with focus on the interaction over time between cargo transporters and ProRail as network controller. The aim is to come to concepts that both reduce the variability and repeated plan updates in the requests for capacity, and to improve the satisfaction of transporters.
The second project centers around the Vechtbrug: a bridge in a crucial element of the railway system that needs to be opened regularly for boats to pass. The interaction between train drivers, network operators and third party stakeholders is explored with a gaming simulation built upon a precise computer simulation.
The last project explores new steering concepts on the so-called A2-corridor: the most crowded corridor from Amsterdam to Eindhoven that will see an increase in capacity of 50% in the forthcoming two years. We formulated scenarios that scale up from just a few trains to be coordinated between two network operators to inclusion of all stakeholders involved with connections, train driver planning and passenger information systems.
The three initial projects have been delivered in time in 2009. We are currently working on a follow-up project.