Development of a differential route share model for railroad freight traffic

Jerome M. Lutin, Alain L. Kornhauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper summarizes work undertaken towards development and calibration of a model to predict the distribution of rail freight traffic among competing routes. The model is designed for use in analyzing the traffic effects of changes in the level‐of‐service on selected rail lines. The model predicts route shares based on the overall network configuration of each railroad participating in a given market. The model selects feasible routes, discards those routes which appear to be too circuitous or costly, and then assigns traffic to the remaining routes in accordance with several network characteristics. It is designed to be sensitive to level‐of‐service changes, and to simulate the response of shippers and railroads to a competitive environment. A multiple route‐finding algorithm was used to find possible routes based on the number of railroads operating at the originating and terminating end of a market. Multiple routes were determined and matched with observed traffic flows from the ICC One‐Percent Waybill Sample. Physical network characteristics for each route, including distance, junction frequency, and “impedance,” were calculated from the network model and were correlated with the traffic share observed on each route in the market. A two‐stage model was developed to find feasible routes from the set of possible routes and to allocate traffic to feasible routes based on levels‐of‐service. The model was calibrated on 9,793 routes from 1,199 markets with twenty or more carloads from the 1977 One‐Percent Carload Waybill Sample. Model calibration supported the hypothesis that network route characteristics did indeed influence shipper choice of route, and that a normative model could be used to assess relative attractiveness of routes under various railroad corporate ownership restructuring scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-41
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Advanced Transportation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1986

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Strategy and Management


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