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Influencing factors on train punctuality--results from some Norwegian studies

By Nils O.E. Olsson and Hans Haugland


This paper discusses the concept of train punctuality, influencing factors and some strategies for improving punctuality. The purpose of the paper is to give an overview of important elements to consider in the preparation of train punctuality improvements, supported by empirical results from studies in Norway. A high capacity utilisation is widely assumed to reduce punctuality. However, the studies from the Oslo area show that capacity utilisation alone cannot explain all variations in punctuality during the day. We particularly point to the number of passengers in the trains as an additional explanation factor. Our own and previous research seems to imply that the key success factor for punctuality on local and regional trains in congested areas is the management of boarding and alighting passengers. On single track lines, such as long distance lines and regional lines in not congested areas, the key success factor seems to lie in the management of train crossings. The paper also discusses precision versus slack strategies as means of improving punctuality. Future research on influencing factors for train punctuality aimed at developing a model for punctuality prediction is proposed.

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