How Setrag is revolutionizing its train schedules

In order to cope with rising demand and improve its services, Setrag recently set out to optimize its train scheduling processes. We explain how...


Tighter transport times, better traffic management, greater transport capacities: by revamping its train planning process, Setrag is reshaping itself to boost performance.

What’s the point of train scheduling, exactly? Train scheduling coordinates railway traffic around passenger trains, freight trains, and the needs of the maintenance operations on the tracks. The task can end up being a real headache, especially when you’re working with obsolete or inadequate tools and aging infrastructures subject to unstable soil and numerous operational constraints (e.g. maintenance or construction related to the track upgrade program). The risk, of course, is that you might end up with repeated train delays, suboptimal rolling stock rotations, and even safety problems.

Before, Setrag used a timetable system that was poorly suited to the job, based on questionable assumptions (the variable speeds of the different trains weren’t considered, and switching times for freight trains weren’t taken into account). This setup encouraged people to use point-to-point timings, a system that leads to schedule slips and steady saturation on the Transgabonais railway.

With the support of the Digital Transformation Department, as well as the Industrial Affairs Department of the Mining & Metals Division, Setrag has just revamped the transport planning process by setting up a railway benchmarking tool, Viriato, and employing new methods to develop timetables more quickly, with assumptions calculated in real-time. The new, more precise timetables will allow them to schedule train movements more in line with their needs (i.e., track maintenance schedules, the demands of passengers and customers, and variations in freight volumes). A welcome development at a time when demand for transport capacity is growing steadily.

Train scheduling at Setrag with Viriato