Delft University to research flexible timetabling

Photo: Marieke van Gompel / SpoorPro

In the near future, research will be carried out at Dutch University of Technology in Delft into advanced calculation models for a flexible timetable. The aim is to develop a timetable that better reflects the number of travellers and their travel habits, and could even differ from hour to hour.

This flexibility is necessary because there is an increasing interest in ways to better connect train transport to the flow of passengers during the day or even during the week. The corona crisis has taught us that commuters more often work from home and also no longer go to work in the usual way. The way people use the train might no go back to the way it was before the pandemic, which could have advantages, such as less busy rush hours.

Fun versus commuter

The traditional timetable set-up leaves little room for travellers who are on the road for leisure . Some would like a direct connection to a city center, while commuters prefer to go directly to where the offices are located.

With new calculation models, the TU Delft wants to gain more insight into “the future travel behaviour of train travellers”. Based on this, they want to arrive at a timetable that, if necessary, can differ from hour to hour. Ultimately, the research should lead to a calculation model on the basis of which a timetable can change with travel behaviour over a longer period.

Research position

TU Delft is looking for a researcher for this assignment. In addition to developing the aforementioned calculation models, they are also to work on streamlining the timetable of Dutch Railways (NS), should this be necessary. The research position was partly created through collaboration with the performance management & innovation department of the Dutch Railways. The selected candidate will start in the second half of this year, the applications are open until June first.


Meanwhile, the International Rail Passenger Platform (IRP), in which European member states and the European Commission work together, will work on the implementation of the ‘Time Table Redesign’, the setting of a European timetable, a European passenger information and ticketing system. In addition, there will be at least fifteen pilot projects for international passenger transport by rail. A report by the IRP that will be published this summer forms the basis for a European policy agenda.

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Author: Nick Augusteijn

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