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DZSF project: Capacity-optimised construction and maintenance work in the current rail network

DZSF project: Capacity-optimised construction and maintenance work in the current rail network

Construction work in the rail network is often poorly coordinated, slowing down trains and, as a result, leading to capacity losses in railway transport. Against this backdrop, the German Centre for Rail Traffic Research (DZSF) has initiated a project with the support of the University of Passau to develop solutions for a more coordinated implementation and more effective planning of construction work.

Especially in light of further modal shifts to railway – which are so important for climate change mitigation – optimisation is particularly important. Increasing investments in railway infrastructure for the purpose of upgrading the system will lead to a robust uptick in construction activities even in what is referred to as the legacy rail network. Poorly coordinated construction activities today are already causing considerable capacity losses. For example, tracks are being closed for planned construction work although the required building materials or machines are not yet available. Once these arrive on site, a further closure will become necessary. Greater bundling of individual measures would reduce restrictions and lessen capacity losses. A short-term knowledge gain is needed so that the potential available can be tapped and coordination processes can be improved while taking into account the needs of all the parties involved – infrastructure and railway operators, construction contractors, authorities. All the while, developments in what is known as digital capacity management are making steady progress. Its deployment also requires timely consideration of any plans to expand and maintain the legacy network.

That is where the DSZF project comes into play. An analysis of the processes currently needed to implement expansion and maintenance work will establish what conditions and tools are necessary to facilitate smooth coordination between everyone involved, ensure effective planning and implementation of building activities that require a minimal cutback in network capacities, and simplify mutual information exchange. What needs to be determined is how digitalisation can contribute to capacity management, what planning tools are needed, and what role new, digital maintenance strategies can play.

A better understanding of current challenges in planning and implementing building work will allow for academically sound decision-making in the actual upgrade of processes, the configuration of general conditions, and the implementation of digital solutions for information exchange and planning. The results to be achieved can be used as a basis for planning and decision-making in actual project developments and funding programmes at the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport – for the purpose of capacity management, for example – and provide support.

Principal Investigator(s) at the University Prof. Dr. Urs Kramer (Lehrprofessur für Öffentliches Recht)
Project period 01.01.2024 - 31.12.2026

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