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Train operator uses Big Data to ‘avoid delays that haven’t happened yet’

14/09/2015 by Sharon Shahzad


In a sign of things to come, a Swedish train operator is using new technology that employs big data to predict the entire commuter train system two hours into the future.

The a new mathematic algorithm, called “The commuter prognosis” has been developed in Stockholm, Sweden.

It works like a seismograph. When a train is not on time the algorithm forecasts the risks of delay effects in the entire network by using historic data.

Mikael Lindskog communications director at Stockholmstag, the commuter train operator in Stockholm, said: “We have built a prediction model, using big data, that let’s us visualize the entire commuter train system two hours into the future. We can now forecast disruptions in our service and our traffic control center can prevent the ripple effects that actually cause most delays. This is the next generation forecasting tool for the commuter train industry.”

The effects of one delayed train can quickly multiply within the entire train network. Today the traffic control center analyzes the delays manually in order to to prevent future delays. By automating the forecasting, we can raise our service level significantly.

Wilhelm Landerholm the mathematician who has developed the algorithm gave an example of how the technology could work.

“The commuter prognosis” will be the first automated forecasting model of its kind. In a long time perspective it´s possible that it will change how traffic control centers all over the world work,” Lindskog added.

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