You’ve Got to Know When to Hold ‘Em: Realistic Headways from Accurate Modeling

At a Glance

  • Client(s)
  • Regional Transportation District (RTD)
  • Project Location(s)
  • Denver
LTK's simulation and analysis helps RTD plan realistic schedule for North Metro Line. 

Denver’s RTD is presently implementing an ambitious expansion of commuter rail with Denver Union Station (DUS) at its core, including the North Metro Line from DUS to the outlying terminus at 162nd Avenue. RTD had concerns that the planned “full build” configuration of the largely single track North Metro would not support reliable operations with trains traveling every 15 minutes in each direction.

Working with a team of expert civil, track and operations specialists, LTK applied its TrainOps® simulation tool to the analysis. A comprehensive systems approach was used with the network simulation model including other rail lines at DUS. The modeling team emphasized operating variability, including randomized dwells, train performance and route establishment times, to ensure that the simulations accurately predicted operating reliability. LTK also included the operational effects of positive train control in its simulations.

The simulations reflected the results of workshops with RTD to identify feasible locations for relocated, expanded and new sections of double track. LTK designed conceptual train controls for the 18 North Metro configurations studied for the purpose of simulation based on criteria provided by RTD.

The simulations served to develop broad consensus among stakeholders that service at 15 minute headways was infeasible: there were significant environmental and community impact constraints that precluded double track in critical segments. Working with RTD, LTK developed several viable 20-minute peak scenarios that were successfully tested in TrainOps. RTD selected a North Metro Line configuration, now under construction, that required only modest additional infrastructure.