Can Oil and Passenger Trains Mix?

At a Glance

  • Client(s)
  • Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)
  • Project Location(s)
  • Philadelphia
LTK-designed railcarCSX's oil trains and SEPTA's Airport Line needed to co-exist. 

An increase in crude oil train movements on SEPTA’s Airport High-Speed Line (AHSL) created significant congestion on the line, which handles four passenger trains per hour. SEPTA initially tried to limit such oil train movements to overnight hours, but freight operator Conrail (and its owning Class 1 railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern) needed to operate their trains during the daytime too.

LTK was asked to perform an operations analysis of the AHSL with proposed daytime oil train movement, and to evaluate several proposed infrastructure improvements to reduce congestion. The analysis included the application of the LTK TrainOps® simulation software to existing conditions, and compared it with future proposed alternatives — four options with progressively more significant AHSL infrastructure improvements. Each simulation evaluated oil train transit times over the AHSL, as well as on-time performance and congestion metrics for SEPTA passenger train operation. The simulations included detailed data describing the railroad vertical profile, horizontal alignment, maximum operating speeds, train handling, signal locations and associated control lines, rolling stock and operating rules.

Using the TrainOps® results, SEPTA and its freight partners agreed on a schedule for oil train operating slots over the AHSL.  In addition, SEPTA was able to determine the most cost-effective infrastructure improvements to ensure long-range operational compatibility of freight and passenger trains.