Performance of Algorithms for Periodic Timetable Optimization
During the last 15 years, many solution methods for the important task of constructing periodic timetables for public transportation companies have been proposed. We first point out the importance of an objective function, where we observe that in particular a linear objective function turns out to be a good compromise between essential practical requirements and computational tractability. Then, we enter into a detailed empirical analysis of various Mixed Integer Programming (MIP) procedures — those using node variables and those using arc variables — genetic algorithms, simulated annealing and constraint programming. To our knowledge, this is the first comparison of five conceptually different solution approaches for periodic timetable optimization.
On rather small instances, an arc-based MIP formulation behaves best, when refined by additional valid inequalities. On bigger instances, the solutions obtained by a genetic algorithm are competitive to the solutions CPLEX was investigating until it reached a time or memory limit. For Deutsche Bahn AG, the genetic algorithm was most convincing on their various data sets, and it will become the first automated timetable optimization software in use.
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