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An In-Depth Overview of the Computer-Assisted Dispatching System

Updated: May 22, 2021

The digitalized world has facilitated train dispatching to a great extent. Computer-assisted dispatching systems are much easier to operate and are less complex than the traditional way of handling dispatching operations.

Basically, computer-assisted dispatch allows dispatchers to have more relaxed, less stressful routine activities. Computers are there to assist but the predominant part of the role is still done by the dispatcher who is the active controller within the system. All critical decisions are taken by the dispatchers alone.

Let us delve more into the details of the computer-assisted dispatching system adopted by railway contractor companies.

Automated signal clearing

The automated signal clearing is one of the top factors of computer-assisted systems. According to the destination of each train, the system can opt for the route to the destination and clear the signals ahead of the train so there is no room for conflicts. It enables a train to move further under its least restrictive signal. Moreover, this system can automatically clear trains out of sidings.

The expected arrival of a train with computer calculation

The other function which is an important part of the computer-assisted dispatch system is the automatic determination of meet and pass locations. However, it requires the system to be efficient enough to calculate the expected arrival time of each train at successive locations.

The simplest approach to use is the average time for each train class. There is often the usage of the train performance calculator to estimate running times on the basis of the power-to-weight ratios for the train, acceleration/deceleration performance and other details.

Dispatch logic

Computer assisted dispatching systems also incorporate the use of dispatching logic to inspect any conflicts and to suggest some solutions to resolve them. There is the complexity of different levels to carry out this task.

The following types of logic can be used to solve conflicts:

Standard operating procedures

Standardized rules for resolving conflicts are formulated, the computer implements these rules and offers the dispatcher a suggested decision. Under this procedure, high priority trains take precedence over lower priority trains and eastbound trains have priority over westbound. The rules can also sometimes be expanded to contain other factors, such as deviation from schedule.


This dispatch logic considers the next conflict and resolves it to reduce priority weighted delays confronted by both trains. Only single conflicts are taken into consideration under this method. This approach is suitable for a light traffic line.

Optimal dispatch

Under this system, the computer looks all for all possible conflict solutions and comes to the optimal dispatch decisions.

Overall, the railroad train dispatching systems have advanced but it does not mean there are no complexities to manage. There are still many hurdles and tribulations due to the unforeseen circumstances. However, reliable and efficient railroad dispatching services can cope with these challenges efficiently.

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