Dallas Meeting

Focus on the Customer

Dallas pictureThe Fall 1997 INFORMS National Meeting was held in Dallas, October 26-29, 1997. The focal point was modelling customer behavior (including price and market analysis) and needs (logistics services). RASIG did organize a roundtable discussion and three paper sessions. Cluster Chair for the meeting was Bengt Mutén, Reebie Associates, P. O. Box 1436,. Greenwich, CT 06836. Any questions and comments about this meeting should be addressed to Bengt at 203-661-8661, fax 203-661-8886 or by e-mail at muten@reebie.com.

Business Meeting (Changed Time: Sunday 1200-1300, Cotton Bowl Room)

BYOB (Bring You Own Bag lunch). All Sunday Activities are Business Informal.


  1. Financial Report - RASIG Treasurer Dharma Acharya, CSX Transportation Balance Sheet Corporate Sponsorship
  2. BNSF Tour Organization
  3. Montreal Preview - Cluster Chair, Mike Beebe, CN Railroad Session Chairs/Presenters Roundtable Topic/Speakers
  4. Seattle Preview - Mike Gorman
  5. RASIG Project Discussion - Mike Gorman
  6. Other issues - Open forum Topics for future Roundtables

Roundtable (Sunday 1300-1630, Cotton Bowl Room): The Use of Operations Research Methodologies in Railroad Marketing

Panel Discussion

Session MA01 (Monday 0800-0930, Reunion Ballroom B):  OR/MS Applications in Passenger Rail

Co-Sponsored with the Applications in OR/MS Cluster

Chair: Bellur N. Srikar, bsrikar@w7.amtrak.com, Amtrak.

Market Driven Decision Making in Passenger Railroads,

Nejib Ben-Kheder, SABRE Decision Technology.

Abstract: In order to increase their revenues, improve market share and reduce their costs, railroads have to move from constraint-driven decision making to market-driven decision making. The marketing process starts with long term product positioning, medium term planning and pricing to end with short term yield management and scheduling. OR techniques can be used at every step to ensure consistency and added value throughout the process.

Approaches to Yield Management in Railroad Applications: A Survey

Edwin R. Kraft, B. N. Srikar, Amtrak.

Abstract: We survey the research and implementation of revenue management of yield management techniques as applied in airlines, passenger rail, freight rail and trucking applications. We explore the relationship between the analytical approach, marketing characteristics, operating environment and transportation network topology.

Evaluation of Revenue Management Strategies & Policies

B. N. Srikar, Amtrak.

Abstract: This paper describes the basic model that has been developed to simulate the revenue management system controls to evaluate the strategies and policies that affect the system operation. The leg class control and market limit control optimal authorizations along with hierarchical bucket nesting and the reservations behavior modeled for departure day simulation. The expected revenue generated for alternate revenue management policies is estimated from the Monte Carlo simulation.

Integrated Decision Support for Passenger Railways

Tom Shelton, SABRE Decision Technologies.

Passenger railways like most large corporations are faced with making both strategic and tactical decisions. Typical strategic decisions for railways include fleet planning, pricing structure, marketing programs and long term inventory control levels. Tactical decisions include such areas as competitive pricing, yield management and short term equipment redeployment. More often than necessary, decision making for strategic and tactical purposes is flawed and contradictory.

Tour (Monday 0930-1300): Burlington Northern Santa Fe

We will visit the Operations Control Center and Museum of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe in Fort Worth. Seating is limited, please sign up with Michael Gorman, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, 817-352-2260. The cost ($20) for transportation and a box lunch, is to be paid at the conference.

Session MC01 (Monday 1300-1430, Reunion Ballroom B): Logistics & Automotive Support at Norfolk Southern Corporation

Chair: Marc Meketon, mekman@ix.netcom.com, US Airways OR Group, 703-418-5641.

Logistics at Norfolk Southern

Robert Lucas, David Lawson, Norfolk Southern

Computer Simulation of Norfolk Southern Automobile Mixing Centers at Kansas City, Fostoria & Shelbyville

Darin A. England, Erick D. Wikum, Norfolk Southern

Abstract: We describe our Automod model, which simulates operations at any of three Norfolk Southern "mixing" centers, wherein automobiles are unloaded, grouped by destination, and reloaded. Together with dedicated unit train service, these facilities are part of an efficient automobile distribution network. We explain how the results of our simulations have influenced business decisions relating to design and operation of the facilities and network.

Computer Simulation of Norfolk Southern Automobile Mixing Center at Chicago

Xingang Cheng, Ajith B. Wijeratne, Norfolk Southern

Abstract: We present results from our simulation model of the Chicago automobile mxing center, one of four facilities in Norfolk Southern Corporation's automobile distribution system. This model was developed using Automod, a 3-D and true scale simulation package and is utilized to evaluate capacity and service level and to determine resource requirements for the mixing center through designed experiments.

Session MD01 (Monday 1445-1615, Reunion Ballroom B): Assessing the Railroad Market

Chair: Joe Plaistow, jplaistow@snavely-king.com, Snavely, King, Majoros, O'Connor and Lee, Inc., 202-371-9148.

Quality Service Design and Reliable Service Marketing Using MultiRail

Min Luo, Service Design and Planning, Conrail.

Abstract: MultiRail is a leading railroad service design and planning tool used by almost every major railroad in North America. The proposed system will extend its capability for designing and evaluating service plans, and overcome some of its inherited design limitations. It will provide not only the regular service design functionality for planning personnel, but also the capability for marketing/sales people to check and verify the available capacity or capacity limit for new traffic demands to both proactively and interactively. Such practice will lead to more reliable and executable service commitment to the customer and it will also foster more effective and quality related pricing for services. Unfortunately, these functions have been traditionally partitioned and managed by different departments in railroads, and supported by isolated and almost independent information systems. the advancements in information technology, especially those in system integration, distributed computing, and computerized service planning tools (such as MultiRail) made such an integrated system possible and inevitable, in order for the railroads to become more quality and cost competitive than other modes of transportation.

Visualizing the Freight Transportation Market

Joseph Bryan, Reebie Associates.

Abstract: Market intelligence about freight traffic is used by carriers to plan operations and strategy, by shippers to gauge logistics opportunities, and by governments to guide policy, investment, and economic development. Reebie Associates has been the leading commercial supplier of freight market flow data for almost two decades. A new visual database system is under development by a Reebie-lead team, supported in part by federal R&D investment. Working with geographic information software to display and analyze market patterns, the system shows freight traffic as it moves on modal networks at the national and local level. Underlying this network view is a powerful database of U.S. county-to-county commodity volume information, treating the full modal spectrum for domestic and inland international freight. The speaker will discuss highlights of the system and its applications.

Pricing and Product Mix Optimization in Freight Transportation Markets

Michael Gorman, Burlington Northern Santa Fe

Abstract: Pricing strategies may be used to address the chronic imbalance of traffic flows in freight transportation markets and improve profits. However, the large number of markets combining to create the imbalances makes it difficult to identify the most effective combination of price changes to achieve this goal. I propose a methodology for determining the profit-maximizing pricing strategy considering both the imbalance at each node in the network as well as the demand characteristics for all markets creating the imbalances. Monte Carlo simulation is used to incorporate stochastic demand shifts and the uncertainty of the price elasticity of demand. Initial results applied in intermodal service in freight rail shows potential for improving profits over current pricing strategies.

Geographic Information Systems and Vehicle Routing

Lawrence Bodin, College of Business and Management, University of Maryland

Abstract: We will describe key features of a Geographic Information System (GIS), show how a GIS can be used for routing vehicles, and describe why vehicle routing problems (VRP) imbedded within a GIS can have different ways of achieving cost minimization than other classes of VRPs. Computational experiences in solving VRPs imbedded within a GIS will also be presented.

Session ME01 (Monday 1630-1800, Reunion Ballroom B):  Designing an Operating Plan to Respond to the Customer's Needs

Chairs: Bruce Patty, bruce@mcgi.com, Mykytyn Consulting Group, 415-491-1770, and Dharma Acharya, dharma_acharya@csx.com, CSX Transportation, 904-366-4374.

Designing an Operating Plan to Respond to the Customer's Needs

Bruce Patty, Mykytyn Consulting Group, and Dharma Acharya, CSX Transportation.

Abstract: CSX Transportation has recently developed a new operating plan in order to respond to the needs of the customer. While railroads continously adjust their operating plan, this development process started with a "clean sheet" of paper. This presentation will discuss how the customer's needs were identified, the process used to develop a new operating plan, the tools used to support this process, and the lessons learned during the development of the new plan.

Determining Customer's Needs – The Railroad Dilemma

John Gradek, Canadian Pacific Railway, and Bill VanMarter, Canadian Pacific Railway

Abstract: Canadian Pacific Railway is undergoing a major transition in its operating plan development process. The traditional planning process typically involved the railway operating functions – Transportation and Field Operations - with the resulting product being offered to the Commercial functions for advice to the railway’s customers. The new service planning process requires a thorough understanding of customer expectations and subsequent design of a plan supporting the specifics of demand. This presentation will provide an overview of the methodology used by the railway’s planners in understanding customer expectations and effectively designing a supporting operating plan.

Other Sessions of Railroad Interest:

Session SC38: EDELMAN KEYNOTE: Decision Support Scheduling Systems for SNCF (Sunday 13:15-14:15)

Session TD10: Transportation Truck/Rail (Tuesday 15:00-16:30)

Session TE11: Intermodal Transportation Systems Management (Tuesday 16:45-18:15)

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