The two-train separation problem on level track with discrete control


  • Phil George Howlett University of South Australia



train control, safe separation, optimal driving strategies, discrete control, constrained optimization.


When two trains travel along the same track in the same direction it is a common safety requirement that the trains must be separated by at least two signals. This means there will always be at least one clear section of track between the two trains. If the safe-separation condition is violated then the driver of the following train must adopt a revised strategy that will enable the train to stop at the next signal if necessary. One simple way to ensure safe separation is to define a prescribed set of latest allowed section exit times for the leading train and a corresponding prescribed set of earliest allowed section entry times for the following train. We will find strategies that minimize the total tractive energy required for both trains to complete their respective journeys within the overall allowed journey times and subject to the additional prescribed section clearance times. We assume that the drivers use a discrete control mechanism and show that the optimal driving strategy for each train is defined by a sequence of approximate speedholding phases at a uniquely defined optimal driving speed on each section and that the sequence of optimal driving speeds is a decreasing sequence for the leading train and an increasing sequence for the following train. We illustrate our results by finding optimal strategies and associated speed profiles for both trains in some elementary but realistic examples. doi:10.1017/S1446181118000214

Author Biography

Phil George Howlett, University of South Australia

Emeritus Professor (2018 ANZIAM medalist)





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