Canadian Pacific Railway

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Team Awards

Franz Edelman Award: Winner(s)
Winning material: The Canadian Pacific Railway Transforms Operations by.....
2003 - Winner(s)

North American freight railroads rely heavily on "tonnage-based dispatching," in which trains are only run when enough traffic has accumulated. This yields highly inconsistent transit times, causing many customers to favor truck transportation instead. To win back customers, Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) explored the concept of returning to a fixed schedule. Concerned that a fixed timetable would rebound with escalated costs, CPR and MultiModal Applied Systems developed an operating plan that was tightly matched to traffic patterns, including optimization of the routing and classification plan for each railcar movement and determination of which trains to run. Shortest path based algorithms within MultiRail identified opportunities to reduce equipment miles, train-miles, and train-hours, thereby reducing operating cost and transit time. Adoption of the scheduled railroad approach, including associated benefits from infrastructure and locomotive fleet investment and business process improvements, trimmed costs by $170 million (CND$300 million).

Since implementation, the system has dealt successfully with several high profile events such as the December 2000 and March 2001 Nor'easter snowstorms, the June 2001 Houston flood, and most dramatically, the September 11th terrorist attack. Throughout, Continental recovered from each event in record time and generated overall benefits worth tens of millions of dollars.

Access the winning project’s companion paper