Locomotive Operating Plan Optimization

CSX Transportation


Reduction in operating costs​


Size of optimized fleet



Since train schedules and fleet sizes change frequently, railroads require a tool that regularly optimizes their locomotive operating plans. We developed a locomotive optimization software solution that created and maintained such a plan.


Business Problem

CSX Transportation has a fleet of over 4,000 locomotives of different types and with different pulling capabilities. The company maintains a locomotive operating plan that determines which locomotive types will be assigned to each train and how they will make connections from one train to another.  It’s a complex undertaking to maintain a locomotive plan for such a large fleet with constantly changing train schedules. CSX hired Optym to develop a decision support system to create and maintain its locomotive operating plan.

Our Approach

We worked closely with locomotive managers, planners and directors to understand how locomotive planning is performed and how it could be improved. Using a pilot project, we demonstrated that a mathematical model could generate a locomotive operating plan significantly reducing locomotive costs. Once CSX accepted the results of our pilot project, we developed a fully functional computerized model that incorporated all business rules, operating constraints and cost terms. We packaged this model into LocoMAX®, a web-based interactive decision support system that enables changing input data, setting parameters and analyzing outputs through tables, graphs and charts. We integrated this system with CSX’s operational systems.

Key Benefits

  1. This system generated implementable locomotive plans that could reduce locomotive operating costs by three to five percent.
  2. CSX has used the LocoMAX® system to perform a variety of capital investment studies, such as determining the locomotive fleet size needed for increasing volumes and the best mix of different locomotive types.


LocoMAX® automated a manual process and reduced the effort needed to generate a locomotive operating plan for changing train plans. As a result, CSX was able to reduce locomotive operating costs and make its overall locomotive operations more cost-effective.