Planning for the unplanned: An international review of current approaches to service disruption management of railways

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

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This research paper explores the manner in which passenger rail transit organisations plan for and manage unplanned service disruptions through an international survey of practices. This included semi-structured interviews of those staff responsible for service disruption management within 48 international passenger rail transit agencies. Results suggest that only 11% of agencies had parallel transit systems which can be used for riders on disrupted services. Most of these were in inner urban contexts. Track intrusions/medical emergencies, weather extremes, track and rolling stock failures were common causes of unplanned disruptions. Bus bridging was the most common response to line blockages whilst transfer of passengers to the next train was the most common approach to individual train rolling stock failures. Track crossovers were widely seen as critical to managing responses to disruptions, however, a small minority in mostly very cold and freezing climates also saw crossovers as a cause of unplanned failures. Most agencies used available spare buses to source bus bridging vehicles, however, just over 40% actively retracted buses from existing scheduled bus services. It is rare for agencies to have a strategic reserve of buses for bus bridging purposes. The paper discusses the implications of the study findings for future research and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAustralasian Transport Research Forum (ATRF 2012)
Subtitle of host publication26-28 September 2012, Perth, Australia [proceedings]
EditorsMelissa Bouverie
Place of PublicationPerth, Western Australia
PublisherAustralasian Transport Research Forum
Pages1 - 17
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventAustralasian Transport Research Forum 2012 - Perth, Australia
Duration: 26 Sep 201228 Sep 2012
Conference number: 35th (Proceedings)


ConferenceAustralasian Transport Research Forum 2012
Abbreviated titleATRF 2012
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