Minimal utilization rate for railway maintenance windows: a cost-benefit approach




Methods for economic assessment are often used in the rail sector to evaluate large infrastructure investments such as new high-speed lines. With larger networks and ageing infrastructure, these methods can also be used for planning maintenance. In this paper, we focus on the newly introduced concept of maintenance windows in Sweden. These are pre-allocated slots in the train timetable dedicated to performing, among others, periodic/frequent maintenance activities. To justify the pre-allocation of such windows, this study presents a method to find minimal utilization rates depending on window designs and traffic situations. Using a cost-benefit approach, the windows are assessed using a total social cost including work costs, loss in traffic production and reliability gains in future traffic. Based on a case study from the Southern main line in Sweden, we study the minimal utilization rate in different test scenarios, i.e., night or day shifts, asset degradation functions and designs of maintenance windows. The results show that lower utilization rates (4-42%) can be accepted during low-volume traffic or for partial closures, while higher utilization rates (47-83%) are required for full closures during high-volume traffic. Whether the rates are measured as the share of used window time or the share of utilized windows is less important, especially when higher utilization is required. Sensitivity analyses of asset knowledge indicate that parameters such as asset degradation function and minimum asset quality (and to a lesser extent traffic volume, discount rate and failure likelihood) can have a substantial effect on the minimum required utilization rates.


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How to Cite

Ait Ali, A., & Lidén, T. (2022). Minimal utilization rate for railway maintenance windows: a cost-benefit approach. European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research, 22(2), 108–131.