* Transport and Mobility Laboratory, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, École Polytechnique Fédérale de
Lausanne, Station 18, Lausanne, CH 1015, Email: {prem.viswanathan, michel.bierlaire}@epfl.ch
Optimizing Fueling Decisions for Locomotives in
Railroad Networks
V. Prem Kumar * Michel Bierlaire *
06 October 2011
Report TRANSPOR 111006
Transport and Mobility Laboratory (TRANSPOR)
School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC)
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
transpor.epfl.ch
Abstract
Even though rail transportation is one of the most fuel efficient forms of surface
transportation, fueling costs are one of the highest operating cost head for railroad
companies. In US, unlike Europe, fueling costs are indeed, by far, the single highest
operating cost. For larger companies with several thousands of miles of rail network, the
fuel bills often run into several billions of dollars annually. The railroad fueling problem
considered in this paper has three distinct cost components. Fueling stations charge a
location dependent price for the fuel in addition to a fixed contracting fee over the entire
planning horizon. In addition, the railroad company must also bear incidental and notional
costs for each fuelling stop. It is imperative that the number of fueling stops between an
origin and destination should be restricted to avoid unnecessary delays. This paper
proposes a mixed integer linear program model that determines the optimal strategy for
contracting and fuel purchase schedule decisions that minimizes overall costs under
certain reasonable assumptions. This model is tested on a large, reallife problem
instances. This mathematical model is further enhanced by introducing several feasible
MIP cuts. This paper compares the efficiency of different MIP cuts in order to reduce the
runtime. Lastly, the paper concludes with an observation that even though the problem
scale was expected to diminish the model performance, it was indeed noted that runtime
and memory requirements are fairly reasonable. It thus establishes that this problem must
be looked beyond the prism of heuristics and other approximate algorithms for actual
implementation at railroad companies.
Keywords: Scheduling, Largescale Optimization, Railroads, Fueling Decisions
1. Introduction
About threefourths of the world’s railroads operate with diesel fuel. Even though most of the railroad
network in Europe is electrified, US railroads depend almost entirely on diesel fuel. Association of
American Railroads has calculated that it takes roughly seven gallons of fuel to move one ton of ordinary
freight from one coast to the other in USA
1
. This is only about onefourth of the fuel required to transport
the freight by roads. But it is equally important to note that fueling costs have been increasing over the
last few years. According to a report published by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, fueling costs at Amtrak
(Passenger and Freight Rail Company) have gone up from 6% to 11% of their entire budget between
2004 and 2008. This is in spite of the fact that railroads continue to be most fuel efficient form of bulk
transport compared to surface transport by 17% and air transport by 33%.
1
Transcript of the statement by Phillip Longman before US House of Representatives Transportation Infrastructure
Committee on Jan 28, 2009 (source: http://www.millennium‐institute.org/resources/elibrary/papers/)
2
Fuel selling prices vary diversely between locations due to differences in local taxes, distribution
costs, marketing costs and other factors. According to INFORMS RAS Problem Solving Competition
(2010), as of August 1, 2006, one gallon of diesel costs one of the ClassI railroad company $2.2057 in
Atlanta, GA, but $2.2823 at Augusta, GA. One of the major challenges faced by a railroad is to determine
a fuelling strategy for its entire locomotive fleet so that costs are kept at a minimum. Fueling costs for a
railway network usually have two components – fixed and variable. The fixed cost relates to providing the
necessary infrastructure for fueling at the selected station yards while the variable cost is a factor of the
fueling stops and the amount of fuel consumed.
We now review some literature for the fuel purchasing problem as observed in transportation
modes other than railroads. The problem of fueling cost optimization has been first studied in the context
of airline industry. Stroup and Wollmer (1991) minimize the total fuel cost for an airline flight schedule,
subject to aircraft capacity and other side constraints, and formulate and solve the problem as a LP.
Zouein et al. (2002) consider the set of all scheduled flights on known routes to minimize the total fuel
purchasing costs, and formulate and solve the problem as a variant of the multiperiod inventory planning
problem. There are many papers in the last five years that have developed and implemented models to
optimally locate fuel stations so that flow in a network is maximized. Kuby and Lim (2005) and Kuby et al.
(2005) presented a mixedinteger program to find the optimal location of refueling facilities for a new form
of alternative fuel and solve the same using a greedy algorithm framework. Kuby and Lim (2007)
extended their model by adding candidate facilities along network arcs. Khuller et al. (2007) studied a
series of fueling schedule problems to find the optimal travel route that minimize fuel costs needed to
travel from an origin to a destination, or to visit a set of predetermined points. This paper assumes that
fueling locations are known in advance. Upchurch et al (2009) extended the fuel station location model by
Kuby and Lim (2007) to account for fuel stations with capacity limitations. Wang and Lin (2009) proposed
a flowbased set covering model for road network with an electric vehicle to locate refueling (recharging)
stations that would minimize the total facility cost while ensuring that vehicle can never run out of fuel
during a journey. This model assumes that each vehicle is refueled every time it passes a refueling
station, and the formulated model is solved by a commercial solver (with an embedded branchandbound
algorithm). No consideration was given to potentially varying fuel prices at different stations, the delay
penalty associated with fueling stops, and hence the potential benefit from strategically scheduling fueling
activities (e.g., it may be optimal for a vehicle to skip refueling at some of the fuel stations). Lim and Kuby
(2010) presented a heuristic algorithm that solve for the optimal refueling station locations to maximize
the flow such that there are restrictions on refueling with a given number of facilities.
This problem of optimizing fuel purchase decisions in railroads is not an extensively researched
topic. Most of the problems in the domain of optimizing fueling costs in railroads considered in the
literature have their own cost dimensions. The problem considered by Nourbakhsh and Ouyang (2010) is
3
the closest to the problem defined in this work, even though there are some subtle differences in the
nature of the problem. Firstly, the distance between successive station yards in our problem is assumed
to be such that locomotive would never run out of fuel during its journey. Thus there is no provision for
emergency fueling between station yards in our problem. The second difference arise from the fact that
this paper assumes a restriction on the number of locomotives fueled at a particular station yard for a time
period while we assume a restriction on the volume of fuel filled for a particular time period (day) at a
particular station yard within the planning horizon in our problem. Nourbakhsh and Ouyang (2010)
formulate the problem as a mixed integer program (MIP) and then decompose it into two subproblems to
be solved using Lagrangean relaxation. The easier problem that involves the selection of minimal yards
for the entire network is solved greedily while the difficult sub problem minimizes the number of fueling
points and cost of fuel for every locomotive and is solved using a polynomialtime shortest path algorithm
through a certain proposition. We will prove in section 4 that the proposition used in Nourbakhsh and
Ouyang (2010) would not be applicable for our problem with an instance and thus would suggest better
methods for solution.
Nag and Murthy (2010) suggest a greedy algorithm for the locomotive refueling problem and
claim that this method would be more appropriate compared to formulating and solving as MIP for two
reasons – one being that solving a MIP model would require a commercial solver and the other being that
large problem instances of reallife would produce better results through a heuristic, rather than an exact
method. However, railway companies across the world are usually large companies with high operational
costs due to the nature of business and high investment costs. In addition, there are many other functions
in railways operations, such as locomotive assignment, rolling stock management, platform scheduling
etc. that would require optimization algorithms. So it is unlikely that a railway company would cut corners
to save money on commercial solvers. Optimization solvers are used extensively for several decades at
all major top airline and even railway companies. Moreover, freeware solvers such as COINOR and
GLPK provide efficient algorithms to solve MIP.
In this paper, we analyze the practicability of using exact algorithms to solve this problem. Indeed,
existing approaches systematically rely on problem relaxations, decompositions or heuristics. We propose
a mathematical model that is solved to nearoptimality for instances of reasonable size involving over 70
station yards, over 200 locomotives and a 2week planning horizon. This scale compares well with the
size of a small to medium sized railroad. We next improve the specification by including several valid
inequalities, and are then able to solve larger instances with over 1800 locomotives and 600 station
yards. Finally, we introduce in the model an uncertainty feature (in the sense of Eggenberg et al., 2011)
which allows us to generate solutions that are robust to uncertainty in the fuel consumption parameter. A
sensitivity analysis shows that a solution with a small amount of reserve fuel can be implemented for an
increase of the cost of about 0.01% when the fuel consumption of the locomotive rises by as much as
+10%.
4
2. Problem Features and Assumptions
In this section, we describe the inputs to the problem and the underlying assumptions considered
in this paper. The most basic input is the train schedule that provides the list of trains and time table. The
sequence of yards through which a train halts or passes through is also known from the train schedule.
Some trains operate daily while some others operate on fewer days of the week. The sequence of yards
that a train stops or passes by is usually identical for any train over the different days of its operation. This
is not restrictive as the same train with the same origindestination (OD) can be provided with a different
train number (indicator) if the train does not stop or pass by the same sequence of yards. Onward and
return journeys are indicated with different train numbers. Each train may run for one or more days.
However it is assumed that the train schedule repeats itself over a fixed planning horizon, which for the
given data is two weeks.
In addition to train schedule, locomotive assignment plan for trains is also available as an input.
This plan assigns locomotives to trains and makes sure that locomotive assignment is feasible and cost
effective. The plan generally repeats over the planning horizon, two weeks in the case of our data. So
every trainlocomotive assignment for the entire planning horizon is considered at the outset. Typically
every train may run with one or more locomotives and there would be multiple types of locomotives
available to be scheduled for a train, depending on tonnage and horse power requirements. However, we
assume that all locomotives of the same type are used and that every train is powered by exactly one
locomotive. This assumption is again not restrictive for planning mode, even though it is restrictive for
operations mode. It is so because the problem solved by us can be considered as the decomposed
version of the problem involving multiple locomotive types or numbers of locomotive at planning stage.
The locomotive refueling problem considered in this paper is motivated by the INFORMS Problem
Solving Competition 2010. This problem considers a rail network, a locomotive plan that describes the
assignment of locomotives to trains (on particular days) and the train time table. Fueling costs have three
distinct components. One relates to actual cost of fuel which is simply calculated by the cost of fuel at the
yard multiplied by the amount of fuel filled in the locomotive. Second is a fixed nominal cost for every stop
that the locomotive makes for fueling. This cost is independent of the characteristics of the network, yard,
locomotive or its schedule. This cost is incurred at every instance when the locomotive halts for refueling
and is always the same. Third cost component relates to the cost of holding a fueling truck at a particular
yard. We assume that the entire exercise is a precursor to negotiating contracts with vendor companies to
hold dedicated fueling trucks at certain yards, every day, all round the year. The costs for locating the
fueling truck at a yard or for a locomotive to make a fueling halt need not be same. Note that a fueling halt
at a train station yard that has no fueling truck would not only be undesirable but also trite. The objective
5
of this paper is to determine the refueling halts and placement of fueling trucks across the entire network
such that the total costs are minimized. This problem involves a clear tradeoff between the purchasing
costs of fuel visàvis fueling costs of locomotives at specific yards. On top of this tradeoff, the problem of
locating fueling trucks is similar to a set covering problem involving the identification of minimal set of
yards (to locate these trucks), over the optimal tradeoffs between locomotive halting and fuel purchasing
costs, that covers all the locomotive paths in the planning horizon.
The assumptions associated with the problem considered here are listed below.
• Amount of fuel consumed by all locomotives is assumed to be known in advance over the entire
network. It effectively means that the amount of fuel consumed by the locomotive to run between
station yards A and B is deterministic and consistent. It does not change based on weather or wind
conditions.
• Since the problem considered here is in planning mode, the assigned locomotives are assumed to be
available for all trains on all days throughout the network.
• Train time table is assumed to be followed strictly and scheduling decision does not make any
provision for delays or deviations.
• Capacity of the locomotive fuel tank beyond the minimum safety level is known in advance.
• Fueling trucks also have a known uniform capacity limit for the amount of fuel that can be dispensed
on a given day. Fueling trucks would normally start the day at full capacity. Of course, the
mathematical model presented in the next section can be easily adapted if there are multiple
possibilities for the capacity of fueling trucks with different costs.
• Any fueling stop that is neither origin nor destination is an intermediate stop. It is also desired that the
number of intermediate fueling stops for a locomotive on a train route is bounded by a given number.
3. Mathematical Model
We would first break the problem of trains and locomotives into a path for locomotives only, discarding
the train. Thus the sequence of yards visited by a locomotive on different days would be derived. Let a
locomotive visit a sequence of yards across all train routes and all days in the entire planning horizon and
be represented by index s such that s = {1, 2, 3… S}. The sequence of yards s is drawn in such a way
that destination yard for every train route is skipped because it is same as the origin yard for the next train
route of the same locomotive and also because refueling is not an option at the destination yard. Let j be
the index used to identify a locomotive. Let r represent the index for train route (different for every time
period, say, day), i be the yard and t be the day number in the planning horizon, varying between 1 and T.
This section is divided into a brief description of the decision variables, followed by parameter
descriptions and then the objective function definition and finally the constraints.
6
Decision Variables:
x
js
: Flag to represent refueling of locomotive j at the yard appearing in sequence s on its route; Binary
y
js
: Amount of fuel in locomotive j at the time of entering the yard appearing in sequence s; Linear
w
js
: Amount of fuel filled in locomotive j at the yard appearing in sequence s; Linear
z
i
: Number of refueling trucks at yard i; Integer
Known Parameters:
Param_refuel
jis
: 1 if locomotive j visits yard i on sequence s and 0 otherwise
Day
jst
: 1 if locomotive j visits yard sequence s on day t and 0 otherwise
Train
rjs
: Flag for intermediate yards; 1 if yard sequence s for locomotive j on train route r is
Intermediate, 0 otherwise (preprocessed)
d
js
: Distance between yards appearing in sequence s and next (in case it is the last non
destination yard, then the first yard of the sequence) for locomotive j (preprocessed)
rate: Amount of fuel consumed to run one mile
Min_fuel
js
: Minimum fuel required to reach next yard (=d
js
* rate)
c
i
: Cost of fuel at yard i
c
FIXED
: Fixed cost for refueling
c
CONTRACT
: Contracting cost of refueling truck over the planning horizon
CAP: Refueling truck capacity
TANK: Locomotive tank capacity
NFP: Maximum number of intermediate fueling yards on a train route
Objective Function:
Objective function has the three cost components. The first term represents that fixed halting cost at any
station yard for refueling, second term represents the cost of purchasing fuel at that yard and the third
term indicates that cost of contracting z
i
number of fueling trucks at yard i.
Minimize Cost
c
PIXLÐ
s ]
x
]s
+ Porom_rc¡ucl
]ìs
c
ì
s ] ì
w
]s
+c
C0N1RAC1
ì
z
ì
Constraints:
1. yard sequence s is refueled if and only if there is a halt at that yard. A locomotive j on
w
]s
¸ IANK. x
]s
∀ j, s … (1)
Constraint (1) ensures that a locomotive cannot be refueled if a yard sequence is not a refueling halt.
Given that c
FIXED
is a nonnegative real number, cost minimization objective ensures that the variable
7
x does not take a value 1 if corresponding variable w is zero, i.e. there would be no unnecessary halt
at a station yard, except for the purpose of refueling.
2. at any time cannot exceed the tank capacity Fuel in the locomotive
y
]s
+ w
]s
¸ IANK ∀ j, s … (2)
3. nse omotive before and after crossing a yard sequence s Fuel co rvation in the loc
+ w in_¡ucl ∀ j, s: s ∩ {S} … (3a) y
]s ]s
– H
]s
= y
]s+1
y
]s:s={S]
+ w
]s:s={S]
– Hin_¡ucl
]s:s={S]
= y
]s:s={1]
∀ j … (3b)
This ensures that the amount of fuel in the locomotive at the time of entering a station yard is the sum
of fuel filled at the previous yard and the amount of fuel in the locomotive at that yard minus the fuel
burnt to arrive at the present station yard.
4. A locomotive can be refueled in at most NFP intermediate yards along a route (excluding the origin
e in and the d st ation)
∑ Iroin
¡]s
x
]s
¸ NFP
s
∀ j, r … (4)
5. There is a limit on the amount of fuel that can be filled at each yard every day which is restricted by
tru k d the capacity of the fueling c at that yar
∑ ∑ Ðoy
]st
Porom_rc¡ucl
]ìs
w
]s
¸ CAP. z
ì s ]
∀ i, t … (5)
6. s he variables Bound on t
∀ j, s … (6a) w
]s
¸ u
∀ j, s … (6b) y
]s
¸ u
∀ j, s … (6c) x
]s
e {u,1]
z
ì
e Intcgcr, ¸ u ∀ i … (6d)
The above MIP formulation is theoretically adequate to find an optimal solution. However when
the problem instance scale is large, the run times are expected to be higher on a standard solver. Details
of the run time and results are indicated in the next section. One of the factors that makes the problem
inherently complex is that the amount of starting fuel for each locomotive actually has several possibilities
in the same optimal solution. To illustrate with an example, let us say a locomotive visits six yards
sequentially during the planning horizon and the amount of fuel needed to go between each is 800 gallon.
If the locomotive capacity is 4500 gallons and fifth yard is cheapest for fueling, the starting fuel can be
any amount between 4000 and 4500 gallons in the optimal solution. Nourbakhsh and Ouyang (2010)
8
tackled this problem by ensuring that only a finite number of alternatives are considered in the optimal
solution through a proposition that is proved logically.
We cannot use the same proposition even though the problem characteristics are similar, due to
the constraint pertaining to maximum fuel that can be dispensed at a yard for a specific time period and a
restriction on the maximum number of refueling points for every train. According to proposition 3 of
Nourbakhsh and Ouyang (2010):
“If a locomotive purchases fuel at two fixed fueling stations s
1
and s
2
(not necessarily adjacent along the
route) but no emergency fuel in between, then there exists an optimal solution in which the locomotive
either departs s
1
with a full tank, or arrives at s
2
with an empty tank.”
Note that the problem considered by us has a volume restriction on the amount of fuel that can be
dispensed at each yard. Additionally there are also restrictions on the number of intermediate (nonorigin,
nondestination) refueling station yards. So there could be an optimal solution where the locomotive could
not leave s
1
with a full tank (due to limited availability of fuel at the yard), but arrives at s
2
with a non
empty tank (even as it is not profitable to refuel at s
2
because of higher fuel price). A counter example is
shown in the appendix to prove that the proposition does not hold for this problem.
4. Tightening the MIP Formulation by Introducing Cuts
In this section, we introduce some valid inequalities to improve the model performance and efficiency.
If a station yard does not have a contracted refueling truck, it is not possible to fuel the locomotive
at that yard. It would effectively mean that the x variable for a particular locomotive and stop sequence
r u t the z variable corresponding to the yard in the optimal solution. has to be less than o eq al o
∑ ∑ Porom_rc¡ucl
s ]
]ìs
x
]s
¸ z
ì
∀ i … (7)
This inequality is indeed valid and would also reduce the feasible space.
Given a fixed capacity for the locomotive fuel tank, it is obvious that the tank gets refueled in one
of the subsequent finite number of yards before it runs out of fuel to even reach the next yard. Let us
consider the following example where a locomotive travels through 11 station yards sequentially. Refer to
Figure 1 for illustration.
Let us assume that the locomotive tank capacity is 4500 gallons while it takes 600 gallons to
travel between stop sequence 1 and 2, 700 gallons to travel between stop sequence 2 and 3, and so on.
If the locomotive leaves stop sequence 1 with a full tank, it can travel from stop sequences 2 to 7 without
9
refueling. But it cannot reach stop sequence 8 without a refuel at one of the intermediate yards. Thus it is
imperative that the locomotive is (re)fuelled in at least one stop sequence among 2 to7. Next we consider
stop sequence 2. If we assume that the locomotive leaves stop sequence 2 with full tank, it can travel
between stop sequences 3 to 8, but cannot continue to the next stop sequence 9 without refueling. The
same relationship can be deduced for every locomotive and every stop sequence.
Fig 1: Synoptic map of a locomotive travelling from stop sequence 1 through 11.
Amount of fuel required to reach the next stop and the actual yard numbers are shown below
For every yard sequence s
k
∈ s, there exists a finite set of station yards S
k
∈ {s
k
+ 1, …, s
k
+ n}
such that the locomotive must be refueled in at least one of them to be able to continue the journey. The
presents the introduction of this constraint. following cut re
x
],s
k
+1
+·+x
],s
k
+n
¸ 1 ∀ j, s
k
∈ s: {s ∪ (S+1 ≡ 1 ∈ s)} … (8)
Let us consider the same example as above. In Figure 1, we now consider the physical yard
numbers instead of stop sequences. Note that the condition applicable for stop sequences is also
applicable for the yard numbers. Thus a locomotive leaving yard 11 must get (re)fueled in at least one
of the yards – 46, 33, 14, 25, 16, or 67.
Thus, without loss of generality, it can be assumed that these yard sequences represent the set
of physical yards, I
SK
∈ {i
p
, …, i
q
}. Note that the cardinality of the set I
SK
would be lesser than or equal to
e ity he set S
k
as some yard sequences may represent the same yard. th cardinal of t
z
ì
p
+·+z
ì
q
¸ 1 ∀ i
p
, …, i
q
∈ i … (9)
As already mentioned earlier, the objective function has three distinct cost components for the
cost of fuel, cost of halting at a station yard and the cost of contracting a fuel truck at that yard. The
objective is a strictly nondecreasing function. It is so because the variables themselves are nonnegative
and the cost coefficients corresponding to the cost of fuel, cost of halting and the cost of the fuel truck
cannot be negative either. While the cost of fuel purchase and the cost of halting at a station is locomotive
specific, the cost of contracting the fuel truck is dependent on the entire network. For example, if there
was no cost for contracting a fueling truck or that unlimited fuel was always available at every station
yard, the problem of minimizing fuel purchase cost and halting cost can be decomposed at locomotive
level. Thus the optimal cost of minimizing fuel purchase decision and the cost of halting for each
locomotive is same as the optimal cost obtained by considering all these locomotives together.
400 500 700 800 700 600 500 600
1 10 7 2 3 4 5 6 8 9 11
800 900
11 46 67 46 33 14 25 16 58 11 33
10
Decomposed problem for each locomotive, being a small instance, is usually solved to optimality very
quickly (within a few milliseconds, usually) by a commercial solver. Optimal costs for purchasing fuel and
halting obtained for the decomposed problem can be used as a very tight lower bound of the
corresponding cost components for each locomotive in the original problem.
Thus the first two terms of the objective function are minimized for each locomotive separately
and MIP is solved for constraints (1) to (4) and (6a) to (6d). Let the optimal locomotive halting cost
parameter for every locomotive at every yard sequence be x*
js
and the optimal amount of fuel filled at
yard sequence s for locomotive j be w*
js
. Thus for every locomotive, the total fuel purchasing cost in the
entire planning horizon will be ∑ ∑ Porom_rc¡ucl
]ìs
c
ì s ì
w
]s

and the total cost of fuel halting would be
∑ c
PIXLÐ s
x
]s

. Therefore, we can add the following two constraints that give a lower bound on locomotive
level fuel purchasing cost and halting cost for the original problem.
Porom_rc¡ucl
]ìs
c
ì
s ì
w
]s
¸ Porom_rc¡ucl
]ìs
c
ì
s ì
w
]s

∀ ] … (1u)
c
PIXLÐ
s
x
]s
¸ c
PIXLÐ
s
x
]s

∀ ] … (11)
The above constraints would ensure a better lower bound and possibly yield quicker solution. It is
also possible to get a lower bound on the total cost of truck contracting and fuel purchasing by ignoring
the xvariable in the objective function.
5. Problem Instances and Results
We are given a reallife scaled down version of the actual problem of optimal locomotive refueling at a
major US railroad through the INFORMS RAS 2010 Open Competition. We would apply the model and
solution technique described in sections 3 and 4 above to illustrate the actual performance on the case
study problem. This problem has 214 locomotives operating 214 different trains. Some trains are daily
and some others are less frequent. However a timetable, which repeats on a weekly basis and the
assignment of locomotives to trains, is provided. Even though the time table repeats over a week,
locomotiveassignment schedule has a twoweek window. Thus we choose a planning horizon of two
weeks for our problem as well. Cost of fuel ranges from $2.90 to $3.56 per gallon across different station
yards. Locomotive tank capacity is 4500 gallons. Cost of halting for refueling is fixed at $250 per halt and
the cost of contracting a fueling truck with a capacity of 25,000 gallons per day is $4000 per week.
11
However we are allowed to provide multiple fueling trucks at the same station yard if it makes price
sense.
The problem preprocessing is done using MSExcel and Cprogramming. ILOGCplex is used as
the commercial solver to solve the MIP. The given problem instance is run on a 64bit Linux server with
3.0 GHz processor speed and 4 GB RAM. The formulation without the addition of MIP cuts and tightening
bounds produces a solution of about $11.41 mil with an optimality gap of over 1.5% in about 10 min. The
run time to generate the lower bounds x
js
* and w
js
* for constraints (10) and (11) of the model is small and
is usually within 1 minute for all the locomotives. The final model with all cuts and improved bounds
produces a solution of $11,399,670.88 with an optimality gap of 0.08% in less than 10 mins. The
performance of the model with the introduction of the various MIP cuts is shown below. All models were
run for a cutoff time of 10 mins. The results are shown in table 1.
Model Name Constraints Included Time Limit (s) Solution (mil $) Optimality Gap (%)
Base (1) – (6) 600 11.41150 1.53%
MIPCut#1 (1) – (7) 600 11.40419 0.85%
MIPCut#2 (1) – (9) 600 11.40068 0.21%
MIPCut#3 (1) – (11) 600 11.39967 0.08%
Table 1: Model Performance
We ran the model with all MIP cuts for about 15 hours. The model could not prove the optimality
but we were left with a small absolute optimality gap of less than $100.
We are now focusing on the performance of our model on larger problem instances. Due to lack
of real large problem instance, we used the existing network framework. We created network instance of
two times, four times and eight times the size of the initial instance by increasing the number of nodes
and arcs, thereby creating mirror networks. Our data relating to arc distances was kept the same even in
the new “expanded” network. We also proportionally expanded the other features of the problem – such
as the station yards, trains and locomotives. All the costs – cost of fuel, cost of halting, cost of contracting
fueling truck – as well as the capacity of fueling truck was kept the same. As we know the properties of
the new “expanded” network, we also know that the solutions for the bigger sized networks have to be
proportionally larger. Thus we know that the best solution that can be expected from the solver for a
double sized network would be $ 22799341.76. The results of the models of larger sized instances are
given in table 2 below. The last column indicates the gap with respect to the best known solution
extrapolated for the larger network.
12
Network
Size
Model
Name
Constraints
Included
Time
Limit (s)
Solution
(mil $)
Optimality
Gap (%)
Best Known
Solution Gap (%)
Double Base (1) – (6) 600 22.84456 1.89% 0.20%
Double MIPCut#1 (1) – (7) 600 22.82189 1.06% 0.10%
Double MIPCut#2 (1) – (9) 600 22.81712 0.48% 0.08%
Double MIPCut#3 (1) – (11) 600 22.80818 0.36% 0.04%
Quadruple Base (1) – (6) 600 45.74321 2.12% 0.32%
Quadruple MIPCut#1 (1) – (7) 600 45.69412 1.34% 0.21%
Quadruple MIPCut#2 (1) – (9) 600 45.68753 0.66% 0.19%
Quadruple MIPCut#3 (1) – (11) 600 45.67923 0.47% 0.18%
Eight Times Base (2) – (6) 600 91.72433 2.56% 0.58%
Eight Times MIPCut#1 (2) – (7) 600 91.65912 1.73% 0.51%
Eight Times MIPCut#2 (2) – (9) 600 91.63665 1.01% 0.48%
Eight Times MIPCut#3 (2) – (11) 600 91.61742 0.79% 0.46%
Table 2: Model Performance on Larger Problem Instances
6. Dealing with Uncertainty
In our optimization strategy, we have primarily aimed to minimize costs while making sure that the
generated solution is theoretically “feasible”. One of the strongest assumptions in this paper relates to
assumption of deterministic fuel consumption throughout the locomotive network. However it is well
known that this assumption does not make any sense in practice. In reallife, locomotives must be having
additional capacity to carry reserve fuel throughout their journey. However any discussion on the amount
of reserve fuel has been left out in the discussion so far. We would consider the implication of this
assumption and suggest a method to overcome the same in this section.
Eggenberg et al. (2011) have provided an interesting framework to enhance the robustness of the
solution in the face of data uncertainty without increasing the model complexity. We would adapt a similar
philosophy to our context. While the amount of fuel required to travel between two given yards is primarily
dependent on the distance between the two yards, which is known in advance, there are a number of
other minor factors which might cause some variance. Fuel requirement for a locomotive varies to travel
the same two yards might vary due to changes in train speeds, braking situations due to signals,
atmospheric pressure, wind conditions and temperature. Curiously, when we analyzed the optimal
solution for the base network, we found that if the locomotive consumed even 1% more fuel at a particular
section (between two yards), there might have been 755 occasions (more than twothirds of refueling
13
halts) when the train would have run out of fuel before arriving at the next yard with a fueling truck. While
this measure is indicative of the extent to which the theoretical model has been optimized, it also
indicates that this solution could be of little interest to the practitioners.
To make the optimal solution practically implementable, we suggest maximizing the minimum
fuel in the locomotive tank at any point in time which can be utilized when the locomotive draws more
than normal fuel in a particular route. The key here is to increase the minimum fuel in the locomotive tank
without adversely impacting the cost. Let us say that such minimum fuel for locomotive j be y_min
j
.
The objective function for the model is rewritten as:
Minimize Cost
c
PIXLÐ
s ]
x
]s
+ Porom_rc¡ucl
]ìs
c
ì
s ] ì
w
]s
+c
C0N1RAC1
ì
z
ì
– o . y_min
]
]
where α is a weight (importance) factor for minimum fuel in the objective function which must maximize
the fuel without increasing the cost, which is represented by the first three terms. As a result, it is
necessary to choose a very small value of α that would increase yvariable without affecting the cost. For
our casestudy, we chose α as 0.001 which ensures that the cost does not change while y_min
j
is
maximized.
In addition to constraints (1) – (11), the following additional constraint would ensure that y_min
j
is
indeed maximized.
y_min
]
¸ y
]s
∀ ], s … (12)
The optimizer is again run on the modified model with a cutoff time of 10 min. While the
optimality gap now increases to 0.12%, the optimal costs still remain $11399670.88. But significantly, this
change in the objective function results in a new solution that reduces the number of stockout occasions
when the locomotive consumes more fuel on every section to 154 (from the previous 755). This method
makes it possible to obtain a robust solution by changing the refuel amount and fueling locations without
increasing the cost.
While this solution is more robust than the solution obtained in the previous section, it is still not
practical to be implemented for the reallife instance because of the high chance of stockout even if there
is a small variation in the fuel consumption of the locomotive. To make the solution less sensitive to the
fuel consumption of the locomotive, it is necessary to carry some additional fuel as reserve. Forcing
locomotives to carry some reserve fuel would escalate the costs, but the solution would be practical as
the chance of intransit fuel stockouts can be nullified (or minimized). Let us say that the amount of fuel
variation (upside) for each locomotive can be up to β. The value of β can be determined by past
14
experience and can be chosen differently for each locomotive and section. The mathematical model can
be rewritten to accommodate this variation by adding the following constraint to the model represented
by equations (1) to (12) along with the new objective that outputs a robust solution.
y
]s
+ w
]s
– (1 +β). Hin_¡ucl
]s
¸ u ∀ ], s … (13)
In this model, an expectation that the fuel consumption can be up to 10% more beyond the
normal would mean that β would take a value 0.1. The more we increase the value of β, the more we tend
to increase the reserve fuel in locomotives and hence costs. We find that if the fuel consumption
increases by up to 10% on any section in the network, the corresponding increase in cost of maintaining
this additional reserve would be $1178.62 – which is an increase of about 0.01% of the total costs. Thus,
interestingly the cost of providing a robust solution is not too high for this problem instance. The
relationship between β and the increased costs when the fuel consumption of the locomotives vary from
+1% to +30% is shown in the pareto curve in figure 2.
0
5,000
10,000
15,000
20,000
25,000
30,000
0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35%
Pareto Curve: Incremental Fuel (%) versus Additional Cost ($)
Fig 2: Additional cost incurred to optimize the incremental fuel consumption
7. Future Research Directions
In the conclusion, we have shown that realistic instances of the problem can be solved to near‐
optimality with exact methods, thanks to adequate valid inequalities. We have proved by this work that
railroad companies must look beyond heuristics and crude solution methods as the exact approaches are
shown to work well for even much larger network instances. In our work, we have also shown that
15
variances in fuel consumption by the locomotives can be handled at minimal incremental costs by
maintaining a certain reserve fuel.
While the concept of adding valid inequalities as an operations research technique has been
studied for discrete optimization problems extensively in the theoretical context, our application shows its
significance in practice. In addition to the railroad industry, this research would clearly have relevance in
the context of airlines as well. Aircrafts fly on predetermined routes and they do have long term contract
with fuel vendors at certain airports. The price of the jet fuel also varies across airports. Cost of fueling
aircraft fleet can be optimized by building an appropriate MIP model and using MIP cuts for faster solution
convergence. Apart from the applications in fueling, the model and the concept can also be extended to
other scenarios that have fixed and operating costs in the problem structure. Cost of ordering goods from
multiple vendors selling the same commodity with different inventory levels and warehouse locations and
varying transportation costs can be modeled and solved as our problem.
The next steps in the research on this problem should focus on incorporating robustness of
fueling decisions. We have suggested one method of capturing robustness by maximizing the minimum
reserve fuel that the locomotive must always carry to avoid stockouts during its journey. It would be
interesting to study other robust optimization techniques and report their performance for this problem.
Another point to be noted is that the term “robustness” has much wider connotations. While we
are specifically discussing about the fueling decision robustness due to variances in fuel consumption, we
have not touched upon other considerations which might also impact “tight and close to optimal” fueling
plans. One such scenario can arise when the fueling truck fails to reach a particular yard on a given day,
thereby creating a possible crises situation. It may be worthwhile to explore the option of purchasing
emergency fuels in such situations and accounting for the same in the costs during the modeling stage.
Acknowledgements
We would like to thank Kamlesh Somani and Juan Morales for conducting the INFORMS Railway
Application Section competition 2010 and providing us with relevant practical data for the problem.
References
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http://www.informsras.org/problem.htm)
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[11] Upchurch, C., Kuby, M., Lim, S., 2009. A capacitated model for location of alternativefuel stations.
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Appendix
Consider a locomotive assigned to a train with three stations, starting at the origin station and passing by
two intermediate stations and returning to the same origin station at the end of the planning horizon. Fuel
requirement between origin and the first intermediate station is 1500 gallons, first intermediate station to
second is 2000 gallons, and second intermediate station to destination is 1500 gallons. The prices of fuel
at the three stations are $3, $2 and $3 respectively. Let the locomotive tank capacity be 4500 gallons and
the locomotive can be refueled at only one intermediate station. While fuel availability at origin and
second intermediate station are 10,000 gallons, it is only 4000 gallons at the first intermediate station. It
could be possible that the actual fuel availability is much higher, but other locomotives passing through
17
18
the yard also require a share of the cheap fuel dispensed at this yard, thereby reducing the availability for
this locomotive. Table below shows the possible optimal fueling sequence and starting fuel range for this
locomotive.
Yard
Sequence
Yard
Number Yard type
Min fuel to
reach next yard
Cost
of fuel
Starting fuel
range
Fuel
filled
Exit fuel
range
Max available
fuel at the yard
1 Y1 Origin 1500 3 500  1000 1000 1500  2000 10000
2 Y2 Intermediate 2000 2 0  500 4000 4000  4500 4000
3 Y3 Intermediate 1500 3 2000  2500 0 2000  2500 10000
1 Y1 Origin
Table 1: Range of starting fuel at different yards for optimal solution
It can be noted that when the arriving fuel at Y2 is 0, then locomotive tank is filled up to 4000 (not
full tank) and reaches Y1 to refuel when the fuel is still nonzero (500 gallons). Similarly, when the arriving
fuel at Y2 is 500 gallons, locomotive can leave Y2 with full tank, arrive Y1 with 1000 gallons fuel, leave Y1
with 2000 gallons fuel (not full tank) and refuels at Y2 when the fuel level in nonzero (500 gallons).
Therefore, there is at least one cycle in the example above where proposition 3 of Nourbakhsh and
Ouyang (2010) does not hold.
the single highest operating cost.org/resources/elibrary/papers/) 2 . For larger companies with several thousands of miles of rail network. unlike Europe. This model is tested on a large. reallife problem instances. US railroads depend almost entirely on diesel fuel. Lastly. In US. This is in spite of the fact that railroads continue to be most fuel efficient form of bulk transport compared to surface transport by 17% and air transport by 33%. It thus establishes that this problem must be looked beyond the prism of heuristics and other approximate algorithms for actual implementation at railroad companies.Abstract Even though rail transportation is one of the most fuel efficient forms of surface transportation. This is only about onefourth of the fuel required to transport the freight by roads. by far. fueling costs are indeed. 1 Transcript of the statement by Phillip Longman before US House of Representatives Transportation Infrastructure Committee on Jan 28. Largescale Optimization. Railroads. This paper compares the efficiency of different MIP cuts in order to reduce the runtime. fueling costs at Amtrak (Passenger and Freight Rail Company) have gone up from 6% to 11% of their entire budget between 2004 and 2008. This mathematical model is further enhanced by introducing several feasible MIP cuts. 2009 (source: http://www. In addition. Introduction About threefourths of the world’s railroads operate with diesel fuel. It is imperative that the number of fueling stops between an origin and destination should be restricted to avoid unnecessary delays. The railroad fueling problem considered in this paper has three distinct cost components. According to a report published by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Even though most of the railroad network in Europe is electrified. it was indeed noted that runtime and memory requirements are fairly reasonable.millennium‐institute. Fueling Decisions 1. the fuel bills often run into several billions of dollars annually. the paper concludes with an observation that even though the problem scale was expected to diminish the model performance. This paper proposes a mixed integer linear program model that determines the optimal strategy for contracting and fuel purchase schedule decisions that minimizes overall costs under certain reasonable assumptions. Keywords: Scheduling. Association of American Railroads has calculated that it takes roughly seven gallons of fuel to move one ton of ordinary 1 freight from one coast to the other in USA . But it is equally important to note that fueling costs have been increasing over the last few years. the railroad company must also bear incidental and notional costs for each fuelling stop. Fueling stations charge a location dependent price for the fuel in addition to a fixed contracting fee over the entire planning horizon. fueling costs are one of the highest operating cost head for railroad companies.
GA. and the formulated model is solved by a commercial solver (with an embedded branchandbound algorithm). No consideration was given to potentially varying fuel prices at different stations.2057 in Atlanta. This problem of optimizing fuel purchase decisions in railroads is not an extensively researched topic. There are many papers in the last five years that have developed and implemented models to optimally locate fuel stations so that flow in a network is maximized. This model assumes that each vehicle is refueled every time it passes a refueling station.2823 at Augusta. and formulate and solve the problem as a LP. Kuby and Lim (2007) extended their model by adding candidate facilities along network arcs. GA. This paper assumes that fueling locations are known in advance. Wang and Lin (2009) proposed a flowbased set covering model for road network with an electric vehicle to locate refueling (recharging) stations that would minimize the total facility cost while ensuring that vehicle can never run out of fuel during a journey. One of the major challenges faced by a railroad is to determine a fuelling strategy for its entire locomotive fleet so that costs are kept at a minimum. (2007) studied a series of fueling schedule problems to find the optimal travel route that minimize fuel costs needed to travel from an origin to a destination. The problem of fueling cost optimization has been first studied in the context of airline industry. The fixed cost relates to providing the necessary infrastructure for fueling at the selected station yards while the variable cost is a factor of the fueling stops and the amount of fuel consumed. Fueling costs for a railway network usually have two components – fixed and variable. We now review some literature for the fuel purchasing problem as observed in transportation modes other than railroads. The problem considered by Nourbakhsh and Ouyang (2010) is 3 . (2005) presented a mixedinteger program to find the optimal location of refueling facilities for a new form of alternative fuel and solve the same using a greedy algorithm framework. the delay penalty associated with fueling stops. (2002) consider the set of all scheduled flights on known routes to minimize the total fuel purchasing costs. and hence the potential benefit from strategically scheduling fueling activities (e. 2006. distribution costs. marketing costs and other factors. subject to aircraft capacity and other side constraints. Zouein et al. it may be optimal for a vehicle to skip refueling at some of the fuel stations). Kuby and Lim (2005) and Kuby et al. Upchurch et al (2009) extended the fuel station location model by Kuby and Lim (2007) to account for fuel stations with capacity limitations. Lim and Kuby (2010) presented a heuristic algorithm that solve for the optimal refueling station locations to maximize the flow such that there are restrictions on refueling with a given number of facilities. as of August 1. Khuller et al. one gallon of diesel costs one of the ClassI railroad company $2. but $2.g. and formulate and solve the problem as a variant of the multiperiod inventory planning problem. Stroup and Wollmer (1991) minimize the total fuel cost for an airline flight schedule. or to visit a set of predetermined points. Most of the problems in the domain of optimizing fueling costs in railroads considered in the literature have their own cost dimensions.Fuel selling prices vary diversely between locations due to differences in local taxes. According to INFORMS RAS Problem Solving Competition (2010)..
rolling stock management. Firstly. Thus there is no provision for emergency fueling between station yards in our problem. that would require optimization algorithms. Indeed. there are many other functions in railways operations.the closest to the problem defined in this work. and are then able to solve larger instances with over 1800 locomotives and 600 station yards. We next improve the specification by including several valid inequalities. freeware solvers such as COINOR and GLPK provide efficient algorithms to solve MIP. existing approaches systematically rely on problem relaxations. We propose a mathematical model that is solved to nearoptimality for instances of reasonable size involving over 70 station yards. Nourbakhsh and Ouyang (2010) formulate the problem as a mixed integer program (MIP) and then decompose it into two subproblems to be solved using Lagrangean relaxation. Finally. We will prove in section 4 that the proposition used in Nourbakhsh and Ouyang (2010) would not be applicable for our problem with an instance and thus would suggest better methods for solution.. A sensitivity analysis shows that a solution with a small amount of reserve fuel can be implemented for an increase of the cost of about 0. Optimization solvers are used extensively for several decades at all major top airline and even railway companies. Nag and Murthy (2010) suggest a greedy algorithm for the locomotive refueling problem and claim that this method would be more appropriate compared to formulating and solving as MIP for two reasons – one being that solving a MIP model would require a commercial solver and the other being that large problem instances of reallife would produce better results through a heuristic. railway companies across the world are usually large companies with high operational costs due to the nature of business and high investment costs. So it is unlikely that a railway company would cut corners to save money on commercial solvers. Moreover. 2011) which allows us to generate solutions that are robust to uncertainty in the fuel consumption parameter. the distance between successive station yards in our problem is assumed to be such that locomotive would never run out of fuel during its journey. In addition. 4 . This scale compares well with the size of a small to medium sized railroad. However. we analyze the practicability of using exact algorithms to solve this problem. The second difference arise from the fact that this paper assumes a restriction on the number of locomotives fueled at a particular station yard for a time period while we assume a restriction on the volume of fuel filled for a particular time period (day) at a particular station yard within the planning horizon in our problem.01% when the fuel consumption of the locomotive rises by as much as +10%. platform scheduling etc. such as locomotive assignment. decompositions or heuristics. we introduce in the model an uncertainty feature (in the sense of Eggenberg et al. The easier problem that involves the selection of minimal yards for the entire network is solved greedily while the difficult sub problem minimizes the number of fueling points and cost of fuel for every locomotive and is solved using a polynomialtime shortest path algorithm through a certain proposition. rather than an exact method. over 200 locomotives and a 2week planning horizon. In this paper. even though there are some subtle differences in the nature of the problem.
we describe the inputs to the problem and the underlying assumptions considered in this paper. It is so because the problem solved by us can be considered as the decomposed version of the problem involving multiple locomotive types or numbers of locomotive at planning stage. depending on tonnage and horse power requirements. The objective 5 . all round the year. Problem Features and Assumptions In this section. However. The sequence of yards through which a train halts or passes through is also known from the train schedule. Typically every train may run with one or more locomotives and there would be multiple types of locomotives available to be scheduled for a train. Second is a fixed nominal cost for every stop that the locomotive makes for fueling. which for the given data is two weeks. One relates to actual cost of fuel which is simply calculated by the cost of fuel at the yard multiplied by the amount of fuel filled in the locomotive.2. We assume that the entire exercise is a precursor to negotiating contracts with vendor companies to hold dedicated fueling trucks at certain yards. The locomotive refueling problem considered in this paper is motivated by the INFORMS Problem Solving Competition 2010. The costs for locating the fueling truck at a yard or for a locomotive to make a fueling halt need not be same. This cost is independent of the characteristics of the network. Each train may run for one or more days. every day. The sequence of yards that a train stops or passes by is usually identical for any train over the different days of its operation. we assume that all locomotives of the same type are used and that every train is powered by exactly one locomotive. The plan generally repeats over the planning horizon. This is not restrictive as the same train with the same origindestination (OD) can be provided with a different train number (indicator) if the train does not stop or pass by the same sequence of yards. yard. locomotive assignment plan for trains is also available as an input. The most basic input is the train schedule that provides the list of trains and time table. In addition to train schedule. This assumption is again not restrictive for planning mode. Note that a fueling halt at a train station yard that has no fueling truck would not only be undesirable but also trite. Fueling costs have three distinct components. Onward and return journeys are indicated with different train numbers. This problem considers a rail network. However it is assumed that the train schedule repeats itself over a fixed planning horizon. Third cost component relates to the cost of holding a fueling truck at a particular yard. even though it is restrictive for operations mode. So every trainlocomotive assignment for the entire planning horizon is considered at the outset. a locomotive plan that describes the assignment of locomotives to trains (on particular days) and the train time table. two weeks in the case of our data. This cost is incurred at every instance when the locomotive halts for refueling and is always the same. This plan assigns locomotives to trains and makes sure that locomotive assignment is feasible and cost effective. Some trains operate daily while some others operate on fewer days of the week. locomotive or its schedule.
3… S}. i be the yard and t be the day number in the planning horizon. varying between 1 and T. over the optimal tradeoffs between locomotive halting and fuel purchasing costs. The sequence of yards s is drawn in such a way that destination yard for every train route is skipped because it is same as the origin yard for the next train route of the same locomotive and also because refueling is not an option at the destination yard. 6 . the problem of locating fueling trucks is similar to a set covering problem involving the identification of minimal set of yards (to locate these trucks). Capacity of the locomotive fuel tank beyond the minimum safety level is known in advance. The assumptions associated with the problem considered here are listed below. Mathematical Model We would first break the problem of trains and locomotives into a path for locomotives only. followed by parameter descriptions and then the objective function definition and finally the constraints. 2. the mathematical model presented in the next section can be easily adapted if there are multiple possibilities for the capacity of fueling trucks with different costs. Fueling trucks would normally start the day at full capacity. Let a locomotive visit a sequence of yards across all train routes and all days in the entire planning horizon and be represented by index s such that s = {1. that covers all the locomotive paths in the planning horizon. the assigned locomotives are assumed to be available for all trains on all days throughout the network. It is also desired that the number of intermediate fueling stops for a locomotive on a train route is bounded by a given number. Fueling trucks also have a known uniform capacity limit for the amount of fuel that can be dispensed on a given day. On top of this tradeoff. day). discarding the train. It does not change based on weather or wind conditions. • Amount of fuel consumed by all locomotives is assumed to be known in advance over the entire network. Train time table is assumed to be followed strictly and scheduling decision does not make any provision for delays or deviations.of this paper is to determine the refueling halts and placement of fueling trucks across the entire network such that the total costs are minimized. say. • Any fueling stop that is neither origin nor destination is an intermediate stop. This problem involves a clear tradeoff between the purchasing costs of fuel visàvis fueling costs of locomotives at specific yards. Let r represent the index for train route (different for every time period. Let j be the index used to identify a locomotive. It effectively means that the amount of fuel consumed by the locomotive to run between station yards A and B is deterministic and consistent. Of course. Thus the sequence of yards visited by a locomotive on different days would be derived. This section is divided into a brief description of the decision variables. 3. • • • • Since the problem considered here is in planning mode.
Linear Number of refueling trucks at yard i. Binary Amount of fuel in locomotive j at the time of entering the yard appearing in sequence s. A locomotive j on yard sequence s is refueled if and only if there is a halt at that yard.Decision Variables: xjs: yjs: wjs: z i: Flag to represent refueling of locomotive j at the yard appearing in sequence s on its route. Linear Amount of fuel filled in locomotive j at the yard appearing in sequence s. Integer Known Parameters: Param_refueljis: 1 if locomotive j visits yard i on sequence s and 0 otherwise Dayjst: Trainrjs: djs: rate: Min_fueljs: c i: cFIXED: cCONTRACT: CAP: TANK: NFP: 1 if locomotive j visits yard sequence s on day t and 0 otherwise Flag for intermediate yards. Given that cFIXED is a nonnegative real number. Minimize Cost _ Constraints: 1. 1 if yard sequence s for locomotive j on train route r is Intermediate. . cost minimization objective ensures that the variable 7 . 0 otherwise (preprocessed) Distance between yards appearing in sequence s and next (in case it is the last nondestination yard. The first term represents that fixed halting cost at any station yard for refueling. then the first yard of the sequence) for locomotive j (preprocessed) Amount of fuel consumed to run one mile Minimum fuel required to reach next yard (=djs * rate) Cost of fuel at yard i Fixed cost for refueling Contracting cost of refueling truck over the planning horizon Refueling truck capacity Locomotive tank capacity Maximum number of intermediate fueling yards on a train route Objective Function: Objective function has the three cost components. s … (1) Constraint (1) ensures that a locomotive cannot be refueled if a yard sequence is not a refueling halt. ∀ j. second term represents the cost of purchasing fuel at that yard and the third term indicates that cost of contracting zi number of fueling trucks at yard i.
If the locomotive capacity is 4500 gallons and fifth yard is cheapest for fueling. s: s ∩ {S} ∀j … (3a) … (3b) This ensures that the amount of fuel in the locomotive at the time of entering a station yard is the sum of fuel filled at the previous yard and the amount of fuel in the locomotive at that yard minus the fuel burnt to arrive at the present station yard. t … (5) 6. r … (4) 5. s ∀i … (6a) … (6b) … (6c) … (6d) The above MIP formulation is theoretically adequate to find an optimal solution.1 . Fuel in the locomotive at any time cannot exceed the tank capacity ∀ j. To illustrate with an example. the starting fuel can be any amount between 4000 and 4500 gallons in the optimal solution. s 3. Bounds on the variables 0 0 0. except for the purpose of refueling. i. there would be no unnecessary halt at a station yard. let us say a locomotive visits six yards sequentially during the planning horizon and the amount of fuel needed to go between each is 800 gallon.e. 2. Details of the run time and results are indicated in the next section. There is a limit on the amount of fuel that can be filled at each yard every day which is restricted by the capacity of the fueling truck at that yard ∑ ∑ _ . A locomotive can be refueled in at most NFP intermediate yards along a route (excluding the origin and the destination) ∑ ∀ j. 4. Fuel conservation in the locomotive before and after crossing a yard sequence s – : : … (2) _ – _ : : ∀ j. s ∀ j. 0 ∀ j. the run times are expected to be higher on a standard solver. ∀ i. However when the problem instance scale is large.x does not take a value 1 if corresponding variable w is zero. Nourbakhsh and Ouyang (2010) 8 . s ∀ j. One of the factors that makes the problem inherently complex is that the amount of starting fuel for each locomotive actually has several possibilities in the same optimal solution.
Refer to Figure 1 for illustration. but arrives at s2 with a nonempty tank (even as it is not profitable to refuel at s2 because of higher fuel price). If a station yard does not have a contracted refueling truck. If the locomotive leaves stop sequence 1 with a full tank. it is not possible to fuel the locomotive at that yard. it is obvious that the tank gets refueled in one of the subsequent finite number of yards before it runs out of fuel to even reach the next yard. then there exists an optimal solution in which the locomotive either departs s1 with a full tank. Let us assume that the locomotive tank capacity is 4500 gallons while it takes 600 gallons to travel between stop sequence 1 and 2. Additionally there are also restrictions on the number of intermediate (nonorigin. So there could be an optimal solution where the locomotive could not leave s1 with a full tank (due to limited availability of fuel at the yard). Let us consider the following example where a locomotive travels through 11 station yards sequentially. or arrives at s2 with an empty tank. we introduce some valid inequalities to improve the model performance and efficiency.” Note that the problem considered by us has a volume restriction on the amount of fuel that can be dispensed at each yard. nondestination) refueling station yards. A counter example is shown in the appendix to prove that the proposition does not hold for this problem.tackled this problem by ensuring that only a finite number of alternatives are considered in the optimal solution through a proposition that is proved logically. due to the constraint pertaining to maximum fuel that can be dispensed at a yard for a specific time period and a restriction on the maximum number of refueling points for every train. 700 gallons to travel between stop sequence 2 and 3. and so on. It would effectively mean that the x variable for a particular locomotive and stop sequence has to be less than or equal to the z variable corresponding to the yard in the optimal solution. it can travel from stop sequences 2 to 7 without 9 . We cannot use the same proposition even though the problem characteristics are similar. 4. ∑ ∑ _ ∀i … (7) This inequality is indeed valid and would also reduce the feasible space. According to proposition 3 of Nourbakhsh and Ouyang (2010): “If a locomotive purchases fuel at two fixed fueling stations s1 and s2 (not necessarily adjacent along the route) but no emergency fuel in between. Given a fixed capacity for the locomotive fuel tank. Tightening the MIP Formulation by Introducing Cuts In this section.
The objective is a strictly nondecreasing function. 14. sk + n} such that the locomotive must be refueled in at least one of them to be able to continue the journey. While the cost of fuel purchase and the cost of halting at a station is locomotive specific. Next we consider stop sequence 2. But it cannot reach stop sequence 8 without a refuel at one of the intermediate yards. …. Amount of fuel required to reach the next stop and the actual yard numbers are shown below For every yard sequence sk ∈ s. If we assume that the locomotive leaves stop sequence 2 with full tank. ISK ∈ {ip. we now consider the physical yard numbers instead of stop sequences. iq}. In Figure 1. the objective function has three distinct cost components for the cost of fuel. It is so because the variables themselves are nonnegative and the cost coefficients corresponding to the cost of fuel. cost of halting at a station yard and the cost of contracting a fuel truck at that yard. 16. 25. iq ∈ i … (9) As already mentioned earlier. . 33.refueling. it can travel between stop sequences 3 to 8. the cost of contracting the fuel truck is dependent on the entire network. cost of halting and the cost of the fuel truck cannot be negative either. if there was no cost for contracting a fueling truck or that unlimited fuel was always available at every station yard. Note that the condition applicable for stop sequences is also applicable for the yard numbers. or 67. there exists a finite set of station yards Sk ∈ {sk + 1. For example. but cannot continue to the next stop sequence 9 without refueling. …. The same relationship can be deduced for every locomotive and every stop sequence. Thus the optimal cost of minimizing fuel purchase decision and the cost of halting for each locomotive is same as the optimal cost obtained by considering all these locomotives together. …. Note that the cardinality of the set ISK would be lesser than or equal to the cardinality of the set Sk as some yard sequences may represent the same yard. 1 ∀ ip. . 1 ∀ j. The following cut represents the introduction of this constraint. it can be assumed that these yard sequences represent the set of physical yards. without loss of generality. Thus it is imperative that the locomotive is (re)fuelled in at least one stop sequence among 2 to7. 10 . the problem of minimizing fuel purchase cost and halting cost can be decomposed at locomotive level. sk ∈ s: {s ∪ (S+1 ≡ 1 ∈ s)} … (8) Let us consider the same example as above. Thus a locomotive leaving yard 11 must get (re)fueled in at least one of the yards – 46. Thus. 1 600 11 46 2 700 33 3 800 14 4 700 25 5 500 16 6 600 67 7 800 58 8 900 11 9 500 46 10 400 33 11 Fig 1: Synoptic map of a locomotive travelling from stop sequence 1 through 11.
Even though the time table repeats over a week. being a small instance. Thus for every locomotive.Decomposed problem for each locomotive. Cost of halting for refueling is fixed at $250 per halt and the cost of contracting a fueling truck with a capacity of 25. Thus we choose a planning horizon of two weeks for our problem as well. This problem has 214 locomotives operating 214 different trains. Optimal costs for purchasing fuel and halting obtained for the decomposed problem can be used as a very tight lower bound of the corresponding cost components for each locomotive in the original problem. 5. Let the optimal locomotive halting cost parameter for every locomotive at every yard sequence be x*js and the optimal amount of fuel filled at yard sequence s for locomotive j be w*js. is provided. Cost of fuel ranges from $2.56 per gallon across different station yards. Thus the first two terms of the objective function are minimized for each locomotive separately and MIP is solved for constraints (1) to (4) and (6a) to (6d). Problem Instances and Results We are given a reallife scaled down version of the actual problem of optimal locomotive refueling at a major US railroad through the INFORMS RAS 2010 Open Competition. locomotiveassignment schedule has a twoweek window. Some trains are daily and some others are less frequent. 11 . Locomotive tank capacity is 4500 gallons. However a timetable. which repeats on a weekly basis and the assignment of locomotives to trains. usually) by a commercial solver. is usually solved to optimality very quickly (within a few milliseconds.90 to $3. we can add the following two constraints that give a lower bound on locomotive level fuel purchasing cost and halting cost for the original problem. Therefore. We would apply the model and solution technique described in sections 3 and 4 above to illustrate the actual performance on the case study problem. the total fuel purchasing cost in the entire planning horizon will be ∑ ∑ ∑ _ and the total cost of fuel halting would be . _ _ ∀ … 10 ∀ … 11 The above constraints would ensure a better lower bound and possibly yield quicker solution. It is also possible to get a lower bound on the total cost of truck contracting and fuel purchasing by ignoring the xvariable in the objective function.000 gallons per day is $4000 per week.
All the costs – cost of fuel. Thus we know that the best solution that can be expected from the solver for a double sized network would be $ 22799341. The final model with all cuts and improved bounds produces a solution of $11. Due to lack of real large problem instance. The run time to generate the lower bounds xjs* and wjs* for constraints (10) and (11) of the model is small and is usually within 1 minute for all the locomotives. The problem preprocessing is done using MSExcel and Cprogramming. ILOGCplex is used as the commercial solver to solve the MIP.399. 12 . The last column indicates the gap with respect to the best known solution extrapolated for the larger network.However we are allowed to provide multiple fueling trucks at the same station yard if it makes price sense. cost of halting. The given problem instance is run on a 64bit Linux server with 3. we also know that the solutions for the bigger sized networks have to be proportionally larger.41 mil with an optimality gap of over 1. We are now focusing on the performance of our model on larger problem instances.670.40419 11.76.53% 0.08% in less than 10 mins. The performance of the model with the introduction of the various MIP cuts is shown below. trains and locomotives. cost of contracting fueling truck – as well as the capacity of fueling truck was kept the same. Our data relating to arc distances was kept the same even in the new “expanded” network.40068 11.21% 0. We also proportionally expanded the other features of the problem – such as the station yards.08% Table 1: Model Performance We ran the model with all MIP cuts for about 15 hours.41150 11.88 with an optimality gap of 0.85% 0. The results are shown in table 1. The formulation without the addition of MIP cuts and tightening bounds produces a solution of about $11. All models were run for a cutoff time of 10 mins.39967 Optimality Gap (%) 1. four times and eight times the size of the initial instance by increasing the number of nodes and arcs. The results of the models of larger sized instances are given in table 2 below. we used the existing network framework.5% in about 10 min.0 GHz processor speed and 4 GB RAM. We created network instance of two times. Model Name Base MIPCut#1 MIPCut#2 MIPCut#3 Constraints Included (1) – (6) (1) – (7) (1) – (9) (1) – (11) Time Limit (s) 600 600 600 600 Solution (mil $) 11. As we know the properties of the new “expanded” network. thereby creating mirror networks. The model could not prove the optimality but we were left with a small absolute optimality gap of less than $100.
12% 1.48% 0.46% Table 2: Model Performance on Larger Problem Instances 6. One of the strongest assumptions in this paper relates to assumption of deterministic fuel consumption throughout the locomotive network.63665 91. However any discussion on the amount of reserve fuel has been left out in the discussion so far.20% 0. we have primarily aimed to minimize costs while making sure that the generated solution is theoretically “feasible”.56% 1. Fuel requirement for a locomotive varies to travel the same two yards might vary due to changes in train speeds.69412 45.73% 1.51% 0. wind conditions and temperature.06% 0.65912 91.10% 0.67923 91. In reallife.68753 45. Curiously. We would adapt a similar philosophy to our context.21% 0. However it is well known that this assumption does not make any sense in practice.79% Best Known Solution Gap (%) 0.66% 0.19% 0.81712 22.48% 0.80818 45. braking situations due to signals. Eggenberg et al.04% 0.82189 22. atmospheric pressure.01% 0.58% 0. While the amount of fuel required to travel between two given yards is primarily dependent on the distance between the two yards. (2011) have provided an interesting framework to enhance the robustness of the solution in the face of data uncertainty without increasing the model complexity.34% 0.89% 1.47% 2.61742 Optimality Gap (%) 1. there might have been 755 occasions (more than twothirds of refueling 13 .Network Size Double Double Double Double Quadruple Quadruple Quadruple Quadruple Eight Times Eight Times Eight Times Eight Times Model Name Base MIPCut#1 MIPCut#2 MIPCut#3 Base MIPCut#1 MIPCut#2 MIPCut#3 Base MIPCut#1 MIPCut#2 MIPCut#3 Constraints Included (1) – (6) (1) – (7) (1) – (9) (1) – (11) (1) – (6) (1) – (7) (1) – (9) (1) – (11) (2) – (6) (2) – (7) (2) – (9) (2) – (11) Time Limit (s) 600 600 600 600 600 600 600 600 600 600 600 600 Solution (mil $) 22. we found that if the locomotive consumed even 1% more fuel at a particular section (between two yards). when we analyzed the optimal solution for the base network.84456 22. there are a number of other minor factors which might cause some variance.18% 0. locomotives must be having additional capacity to carry reserve fuel throughout their journey.32% 0.72433 91. We would consider the implication of this assumption and suggest a method to overcome the same in this section.74321 45.08% 0. Dealing with Uncertainty In our optimization strategy.36% 2. which is known in advance.
12%. While this measure is indicative of the extent to which the theoretical model has been optimized. Let us say that the amount of fuel variation (upside) for each locomotive can be up to β. For our casestudy. Forcing locomotives to carry some reserve fuel would escalate the costs.88. _ ∀ .halts) when the train would have run out of fuel before arriving at the next yard with a fueling truck. we chose α as 0. The key here is to increase the minimum fuel in the locomotive tank without adversely impacting the cost. But significantly. This method makes it possible to obtain a robust solution by changing the refuel amount and fueling locations without increasing the cost. The objective function for the model is rewritten as: Minimize Cost _ – . To make the optimal solution practically implementable. In addition to constraints (1) – (11). … (12) The optimizer is again run on the modified model with a cutoff time of 10 min. the optimal costs still remain $11399670. While the optimality gap now increases to 0. _ where α is a weight (importance) factor for minimum fuel in the objective function which must maximize the fuel without increasing the cost. we suggest maximizing the minimum fuel in the locomotive tank at any point in time which can be utilized when the locomotive draws more than normal fuel in a particular route.001 which ensures that the cost does not change while y_minj is maximized. which is represented by the first three terms. this change in the objective function results in a new solution that reduces the number of stockout occasions when the locomotive consumes more fuel on every section to 154 (from the previous 755). but the solution would be practical as the chance of intransit fuel stockouts can be nullified (or minimized). The value of β can be determined by past 14 . To make the solution less sensitive to the fuel consumption of the locomotive. As a result. it also indicates that this solution could be of little interest to the practitioners. it is necessary to choose a very small value of α that would increase yvariable without affecting the cost. While this solution is more robust than the solution obtained in the previous section. Let us say that such minimum fuel for locomotive j be y_minj. it is necessary to carry some additional fuel as reserve. it is still not practical to be implemented for the reallife instance because of the high chance of stockout even if there is a small variation in the fuel consumption of the locomotive. the following additional constraint would ensure that y_minj is indeed maximized.
000 0 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% Fig 2: Additional cost incurred to optimize the incremental fuel consumption 7. Future Research Directions In the conclusion. Pareto Curve: Incremental Fuel (%) versus Additional Cost ($) 30.000 5. Thus. The relationship between β and the increased costs when the fuel consumption of the locomotives vary from +1% to +30% is shown in the pareto curve in figure 2.experience and can be chosen differently for each locomotive and section. In our work. We find that if the fuel consumption increases by up to 10% on any section in the network. an expectation that the fuel consumption can be up to 10% more beyond the normal would mean that β would take a value 0.000 15. we have also shown that 15 .62 – which is an increase of about 0. we have shown that realistic instances of the problem can be solved to near‐ optimality with exact methods. We have proved by this work that railroad companies must look beyond heuristics and crude solution methods as the exact approaches are shown to work well for even much larger network instances. The more we increase the value of β. the corresponding increase in cost of maintaining this additional reserve would be $1178. The mathematical model can be rewritten to accommodate this variation by adding the following constraint to the model represented by equations (1) to (12) along with the new objective that outputs a robust solution. – 1 β .01% of the total costs. interestingly the cost of providing a robust solution is not too high for this problem instance.000 20.1. … (13) In this model. thanks to adequate valid inequalities.000 10.000 25. _ 0 ∀ . the more we tend to increase the reserve fuel in locomotives and hence costs.
20428 16 . doi:10.. this research would clearly have relevance in the context of airlines as well. and Bierlaire. Cost of ordering goods from multiple vendors selling the same commodity with different inventory levels and warehouse locations and varying transportation costs can be modeled and solved as our problem. our application shows its significance in practice. Networks57(3):270284. Acknowledgements We would like to thank Kamlesh Somani and Juan Morales for conducting the INFORMS Railway Application Section competition 2010 and providing us with relevant practical data for the problem. Apart from the applications in fueling. Uncertainty Feature Optimization: an implicit paradigm for problems with noisy data. Salani. While we are specifically discussing about the fueling decision robustness due to variances in fuel consumption. M. thereby creating a possible crises situation. It would be interesting to study other robust optimization techniques and report their performance for this problem. Aircrafts fly on predetermined routes and they do have long term contract with fuel vendors at certain airports. we have not touched upon other considerations which might also impact “tight and close to optimal” fueling plans.1002/net. In addition to the railroad industry. The next steps in the research on this problem should focus on incorporating robustness of fueling decisions. It may be worthwhile to explore the option of purchasing emergency fuels in such situations and accounting for the same in the costs during the modeling stage. the model and the concept can also be extended to other scenarios that have fixed and operating costs in the problem structure. One such scenario can arise when the fueling truck fails to reach a particular yard on a given day. N.variances in fuel consumption by the locomotives can be handled at minimal incremental costs by maintaining a certain reserve fuel.. While the concept of adding valid inequalities as an operations research technique has been studied for discrete optimization problems extensively in the theoretical context. Another point to be noted is that the term “robustness” has much wider connotations. We have suggested one method of capturing robustness by maximizing the minimum reserve fuel that the locomotive must always carry to avoid stockouts during its journey. M. Cost of fueling aircraft fleet can be optimized by building an appropriate MIP model and using MIP cuts for faster solution convergence. The price of the jet fuel also varies across airports. References [1] Eggenberg. (2011).
Technical Report. [13] Zouein.. $2 and $3 respectively.. [9] Problem Solving Competition 2010. G.000 gallons. 2007. and second intermediate station to destination is 1500 gallons. SpringerVerlag. Malekian.. 2007. 2010. M. C. 2010. M. Geographical Analysis 37 (4)... 2009.. but other locomotives passing through 17 . W.... Lim. The prices of fuel at the three stations are $3. Lim. E. S. 379–386. (Eds. 2005. R.. first intermediate station to second is 2000 gallons. C. 125–145. C. 11041114. Journal of the Operational Research Society 53 (4).R. Ouyang. Lim. Lim. it is only 4000 gallons at the first intermediate station. M. 127–148. Location of alternativefuel stations using the flowrefueling location model and dispersion of candidate sites on arcs. Wollmer.. Networks and Spatial Economics 7 (2).P..D. Geographical Analysis 41 (1). [11] Upchurch. 4698. 821–829.[2] Khuller. The flowrefueling location problem for alternativefuel vehicles... Railway Applications Section (RAS) of INFORMS. A capacitated model for location of alternativefuel stations.. Fuel requirement between origin and the first intermediate station is 1500 gallons. K.).. M. S. L. In: Arge. 51–61. 2010. Upchurch. M. (available at http://www. S. Operation Research 40 (2).. Appendix Consider a locomotive assigned to a train with three stations. A. Transportation Research Part B 44. 2002. M. Kuby.. Locomotive Fueling Problem (LFP) in Railroad Operations. B. Heuristic algorithms for siting alternativefuel stations using the flowrefueling location model.edu/~murty/) [8] Nourbakhsh. M.. 1991.umich. P. 384–409.org/problem.. J. [6] Lim.M. Kuby. A multiple period capacitated inventory model for airline fuel management: a case study. While fuel availability at origin and second intermediate station are 10. SocioEconomic Planning Sciences 39 (2). 2009. Let the locomotive tank capacity be 4500 gallons and the locomotive can be refueled at only one intermediate station. Welzl.informsras. E.. To fill or not to fill: the gas station problem.. pp. [5] Kuby. vol. S. S.. A fuel management model for the airline industry. [12] Wang. European Journal of Operational Research 204 (1).S. [3] Kuby.W. Lin. 229–237. starting at the origin station and passing by two intermediate stations and returning to the same origin station at the end of the planning horizon. Murthy. 129–152. Abillama.. Hoffmann. 534–545. Dispersion of nodes added to a network. Berlin Heidelberg. University of Michigan (available at http://wwwpersonal.. Optimal fueling strategies for locomotive fleets in railroad networks. S. Tohme. [7] Nag.htm) [10] Stroup. Transportation Research Part E 45 (5).. Julian. 2005. Locating road–vehicle refueling stations.C. Y. It could be possible that the actual fuel availability is much higher... [4] Kuby. S. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Y.
500 2000 . Therefore.2500 Max available fuel at the yard 10000 4000 10000 Table 1: Range of starting fuel at different yards for optimal solution It can be noted that when the arriving fuel at Y2 is 0.4500 2000 .the yard also require a share of the cheap fuel dispensed at this yard. Table below shows the possible optimal fueling sequence and starting fuel range for this locomotive.2000 4000 . when the arriving fuel at Y2 is 500 gallons. then locomotive tank is filled up to 4000 (not full tank) and reaches Y1 to refuel when the fuel is still nonzero (500 gallons). Similarly. leave Y1 with 2000 gallons fuel (not full tank) and refuels at Y2 when the fuel level in nonzero (500 gallons).2500 Fuel filled 1000 4000 0 Exit fuel range 1500 .1000 0 . arrive Y1 with 1000 gallons fuel. Yard Sequence 1 2 3 1 Yard Number Y1 Y2 Y3 Y1 Yard type Origin Intermediate Intermediate Origin Min fuel to reach next yard 1500 2000 1500 Cost of fuel 3 2 3 Starting fuel range 500 . there is at least one cycle in the example above where proposition 3 of Nourbakhsh and Ouyang (2010) does not hold. locomotive can leave Y2 with full tank. thereby reducing the availability for this locomotive. 18 .