Swiss Federal Railways uses Activity-Based Modeling to plan future travel

As the backbone of the Swiss public transport system, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) ensures that every day, over 1.3 million passengers and 200,000 tons of goods reach their destinations on time. It operates over 10,000 trains daily across a network that spans more than 3,200 kilometres.

SBB does not limit itself to planning attractive and efficient rail services. It also aims to enable customer-oriented door-to-door mobility solutions for future travellers in Switzerland. To that end, SBB applies an Activity-Based Model (ABM) that simulates travel as individual and interwoven decisions for each inhabitant of the country on a typical weekday. In 2018, PTV Group and SBB initiated a collaboration for the development of an ABM of Switzerland, using PTV Visum software.

Fully disaggregated mobility decisions for every single inhabitant over the course of a day result in a large and comprehensive data set. PTV Visum is used to generate, store, manage, and visualize the model data. This includes:

  • A synthetic population with 2.2 million locations, 3.8 million households, and 8.6 million persons
  • Daily activity schedules with overall 37 million activity executions, bundled into 12 million tours

These outputs of the model are a crucial component for several planning processes at SBB. They are used as a decision aid for future investments (e.g., new train stations), rail service concepts, and strategic directions (e.g., federal modal split objectives).

PTV Visum plays a key role both in the early development as well as today in the application of the model. It provides:

  • Robust and efficient data structure
  • Generic methodology for an activity-based demand model
  • Highly optimized solutions for certain model steps, such as location choice
  • Run time of 12 hours to generate the demand for a full Switzerland scenario

Those features implemented in PTV Visum allow SBB to simulate and deliver a wide range of scenarios and forecasts.

“PTV Visum gave us a clear and high-performance data structure for an activity-based demand model. It’s a big step towards a standard procedure in this innovative and promising field. From early in the development phase, we had intense collaboration which was key to the success of the project”

Patrick Manser Lead Model Developer, SBB

The Results

Country-wide Activity-Based Model (ABM) of the entire Switzerland

Data from model used for planning and future investments

SBB can provide customer-oriented mobility solutions

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