Intermodal container allocation problem in rail yards

In this project, we propose to develop innovative methods to improve the efficiency of yard operations in intermodal terminals where containers awaiting to be loaded on the trains are temporarily stored. The management of yard operations involves allocating storage space to containers on the yard, and assigning cranes and/or other handling equipment to transfer the containers to the rail cars. The lack of proper planning and mishandling of containers can lead to large delays and significant rise in the operating costs. Thus a major challenge for the terminal managers, which we plan to address in this study, is to plan and co-ordinate the yard practices in accordance with the planned train schedules, and re-plan their operations quickly in events of last minute changes in the trains’ scheduled times. Canadian National provides transport and logistics services through large intermodal terminals, and thus the proposed problem is very relevant for their operations. The main objective of the proposed study is to minimize the yard processing time and operating cost involved in the storage and transfer of containers, using sophisticated optimization based methods.

Faculty Supervisor:

Emma Frejinger


Nitish Umang


Canadian National Railway Company


Computer science


Automotive and transportation


Université de Montréal



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