Why does it take a freight train 30 hours to cross Chicago?

An endless fascination with trains and just moving everything around…….

The Operations Room

The New York times had an interesting article on the excessive congestion experienced by freight trains that try to cross the gridlock around Chicago.  (“Freight Train Late? Blame Chicago“, May 2012)

Shippers complain that a load of freight can make its way from Los Angeles to Chicago in 48 hours, then take 30 hours to travel across the city. A recent trainload of sulfur took some 27 hours to pass through Chicago — an average speed of 1.13 miles per hour, or about a quarter the pace of many electric wheelchairs.


The utilization level of the existing infrastructure has gone up and is expected to go up even further. We know from queueing theory that as the utilization goes up, so does the average delay. Furthermore, the delay grows exponentially with the utilization level, which means that as the system becomes busier (,as the utilization approaches 100%)…

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