This paper proposes an optimization approach for sizing port rail networks and planning railway shunting operations by adopting a discrete-time model of the overall system. First, a mixed-integer linear mathematical programming problem is defined in order to optimize shunting operations to be performed on the considered network by satisfying certain arrivals and departures of import and export flows. Moreover, the proposed procedure can be used to evaluate the capacity of a port rail network, in terms of maximum number of trains that can be managed over a certain time horizon, and to carry out what-if analyses aimed at testing different scenarios. The effectiveness of the proposed approach is shown by applying the optimization problem to a real case study referred to the port rail network of La Spezia Container Terminal located in Northern Italy. A computational analysis realized by varying the dimension and complexity of the problem instances is also reported in this paper to discuss the computational performance of the proposed model.
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