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Complex delay dynamics on railway networks: from universal laws to realistic modelling

Bernardo Monechi, Pietro Gravino, Riccardo di Clemente, Vito D.P. Servedio

posted on 28 July 2017

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Railways are a key infrastructure of any modern country where major disruptions and large delays compromising the correct mode of operation occur on a daily basis. Despite their importance, a general theoretical understanding of the underlying causes is still lacking so that a deeper comprehension of these critical situations will impact the effectiveness of traffic handling policies.Here, we report a detailed study of the Italian and German railway networks based on an extensive dataset retrieved during year 2015. We detect universal laws ruling the occurrence of delay at stations and find that both the Italian and German systems display a sort of delay contagion effect. We exploit these results to propose a simple modelling scheme of train dynamics on railway networks which is capable of reproducing the dynamical features of real systems.