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Not only the weather that causes problems

Carl-William, a PhD student at K2, is investigating disturbances in rail traffic. In his research, he has looked at various factors that may be contributing causes of delays and mean that small technical changes in the punctuality can make a big difference to the timeliness of the train.

Carl-William Palmqvist is a PhD student at K2 and researches disruptions in rail traffic, where he mainly looks at passenger trains. Carl-William looks at how trains have gone historically to see when and where they have been delayed.

- This I then link to other types of data, for example, how many margins there are in the timetables, but also how far the trains run, how often, and how much traffic it is.

Carl-William believes there is a deliberate choice to have air in the timetables, as there is an awareness that something can happen that causes the trains to be delayed.

The weather and its temperature are another aspect that Carl-William studies.

- The problems increase with both heat and cold. If it's really hot, it will be bad punctuality. If it's really cold, it will also cause bad punctuality.

Carl-William Palmqvist, doktorand på K2, forskar om störningar i tågtrafiken. Foto: Kennet Ruona

Small changes make a big difference

Overall, it's not the weather that poses problems, says Carl-William, as it is rarely hot or cold in Sweden. He means that how many travelers that is going on and off the train can be a contributing factor to delays. How trains meet each other is another, which is a factor that Carl William looks at now.

- I have also looked at the timetables and how they are made. Making timetables in a certain way can cause more problems than if you do otherwise.

There are small technical changes that can be made in the timetables, which make a big difference, says Carl-William.

- The punctuality of rail traffic is currently 90 percent. In the industry, you want to reach up to 95 percent by 2020. I think that with fairly simple changes in the timetables you can get two or three of the percentages and thus get a good deal on the way. It is a fairly simple measure.

More margins than you think

To explore and dig into problems is what Carl-William thinks is interesting in researching.

- The ability to work very freely is very appealing to conducting research for me.

Something that surprised Carl-William is how many margins there are and how much can be done with the timetables to achieve a big impact.

- One often hears that it's easy to fix the problems, it's just about having more margin in the timetable. But there is already a lot of margins, much more than you think.

Carl-Williams's research is primarily aimed at the Swedish Transport Administration, since it compiles timetables for all rail traffic. Those who drive the trains can also benefit from the research, as they are applying for the timetables. In the long term, everyone can benefit from punctuality.

Calendar from K2