My student job entails planning the shifts of a number of surveyors who rides on selected trains and count passengers.

I would like to request software or other tips that can make this task easier.

This is a short description of the task:

On a spreadsheet I have a list of the departures from the train schedule that needs to be covered by the survey. Something like this:

Time of departure | Station | Time of arrival | Station | Number of surveyors needed
05:36             | A       | 09:52           | B       | 3
10:10             | B       | 14:56           | A       | 2
11:23             | B       | 15:52           | C       | 1
03:01             | C       | 08:30           | A       | 2

The list is really long!

As it is now I make the shifts by copying the lines from one tab in Excel to another, combining them in accordance to certain criteria:

  1. The individual train trips that combine to a shift should be connected.

  2. The surveyors should be able to make the connections with a minimum time span of 10 min to change trains.

  3. The whole shift should be of a maximum length.

  4. The surveyors should end their shift at the same train station where they started.

  5. I can add in trips of transportation using any train in the train schedule to get the surveyors to make connections with trains that need surveying.

  6. The time where the surveyors aren't riding on a train that needs surveying (that is, when they are waiting for a train or riding for transportation) should be minimized.

Is there any kind of planning software that can automate or semi-automate the task of combining individual train trips in accordance at least the first criteria?

  • How strong are your math and programming skills? This is a good linear optimization problem, one of the oldest uses of computers. You can get started with Excel Solver and move to more complex packages with time. – duozmo Jun 12 '14 at 3:41

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