Improving response to unplanned passenger rail disruption: a new method to locate rail-replacement bus reserves

Brendan Michael Pender, Graham Currie, Alexa Reynolds Delbosc, Nirajan Shiwakoti

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This paper presents a new method for assessing bus reserve location to best service unplanned passenger rail service disruptions. This is done by optimising location in relation to travel time to rail replacement, the volume of rail replacement incidents and the scale and spatial distribution of passengers affected. When rail disruptions unexpectedly occur, re-establishing network connectivity is paramount and the provision of a rail-replacement service is common. Minimising response time is critical in reducing impacts on affected commuters. Currently, reserve buses for such purposes are usually sourced from existing bus depot locations, which are generally situated to suit regular operations. Strategically locating bus reserves according to criteria such as disruption likelihood provides the opportunity to better cater for disrupted demand. The bus reserve location may not be fixed and could vary by time of day and disruption demand. New methodologies are presented and analysis highlights how ideal depot locations change in relation to location criteria including; travel time to bus bridging termini, likelihood of a disruption and commuter volumes affected. When only travel time was investigated, the ideal depot location was centrally positioned, whilst when consideration was given to the disruption likelihood, the ideal depot location shifted to areas of increased occurrence. Finally when exploring the impacts of potentially disrupted commuters, in most cases the ideal depot location shifted in favour of areas of higher patronage demand. The methodology presented can improve responsiveness to unplanned passenger rail disruptions. The paper discusses the implications of findings for future research and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTRB 93rd Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers
EditorsRobert E Skinner Jr
Place of PublicationWashington DC USA
PublisherTransportation Research Board
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventTransportation Research Board (USA) Annual Meeting 2014 - Washington , United States of America
Duration: 12 Jan 201416 Jan 2014
Conference number: 93rd


ConferenceTransportation Research Board (USA) Annual Meeting 2014
Abbreviated titleTRB 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
Internet address

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