Optimizing the aerodynamic efficiency of intermodal freight trains

Yung Cheng Lai, Christopher P.L. Barkan, Hayri Önal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We develop an aerodynamic loading assignment model for intermodal freight trains based on an integer-programming framework to help terminal managers make up more fuel-efficient trains. This is the first use of optimization modeling to address the aerodynamics and energy efficiency of railroad intermodal trains. Several recommendations regarding railway equipment use, operations, and policy are proposed to improve fuel-efficiency and reduce emissions from intermodal transportation. Analysis of one major railroad intermodal route reveals the potential to reduce fuel consumption by 15 million gallons per year with corresponding savings of $28,000,000. Greater benefits are possible through broader implementation of the model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)820-834
Number of pages15
JournalTransportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Aerodynamics
  • Energy efficiency
  • Fuel use
  • Loading assignment
  • Railroad intermodal transportation
  • Urban freight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation


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