Public Release: 

Netherlands railways wins INFORMS Edelman Prize

Mass transit revamp for Dutch national system

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

The application of operations research and analytics to rescheduling a heavily used commuter rail system allowed Netherlands Railways to win the 2008 Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences at a banquet in Baltimore last night.

The Franz Edelman competition is sponsored by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). It attests to the contributions of operations research in the profit and non-profit sectors. Since its inception 37 years ago, cumulative dollar benefits from Edelman finalist projects has topped the $130 billion mark.

This was the first time that the award was presented in Baltimore. INFORMS is based south of Baltimore in Hanover, Maryland.

By 2006, the volume of traffic on the Dutch passenger railway network had increased significantly to 15.4 billion passenger kilometers, up from 8.0 billion in 1970. More and larger trains had been scheduled without changing the structure of the timetable, thus overloading the system and causing consumer nightmares.

Operations researchers working with Netherlands Railways constructed an improved timetable. As a result, the percentage of trains arriving within 3 minutes of the scheduled time increased from 84.8 % in 2006 to 87.0 % in 2007. Public opinion surveys showed greater commuter satisfaction and the number of passengers grew by 2% in the first six months of 2007 alone.

In 2007, these more efficient schedules and the increased number of passengers resulted in an additional annual profit of 40 million Euros (approximately $60 million). Additional annual profits are expected to grow to 70 million Euros (approximately $105 million) in coming years. A further increase in mass transit is now possible, which would reduce road congestion and pollution from greenhouse gases.

The six finalists competing in the 2008 Franz Edelman Award Competition included the Federal Aviation Administration; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Norwegian team of StatOil/Hydro, Gassco, and Sintef; the city of Stockholm, Sweden; and Xerox. More information is at http://www.informs.org/article.php?id=1356&p=1|.

Every year, the Franz Edelman competition recognizes outstanding examples of operations research (O.R.)-based projects that have transformed companies, entire industries, and people's lives. O.R. uses advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions.

Past Franz Edelman winners have included Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Merrill Lynch, Motorola, Canadian Pacific Railway, GM, and IBM. Additional information about the Edelman Competition is online at http://www.scienceofbetter.org/Edelman.

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About INFORMS

The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®) is an international scientific society with 10,000 members, including Nobel Prize laureates, dedicated to applying scientific methods to help improve decision-making, management, and operations. Members of INFORMS work in business, government, and academia. They are represented in fields as diverse as airlines, health care, law enforcement, the military, financial engineering, and telecommunications. The INFORMS website is www.informs.org. More information about operations research is at www.scienceofbetter.org.

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