Queueing Theory: Faster Trains Might Make London Underground Slower

Posted by Alex Slotnick on Oct 10, 2015 5:54:37 PM

We’ve got a new free ebook, hot off the press, all about queueing theory. Our hope is that this new resource will help you get a handle on exactly how queueing theory works, what to look out for when dealing with queues in your organization, and why they can be tricky.


Now, to go along with the ebook, here’s a great real-world example that effectively illustrates how queueing theory can be unintuitive even in situations that seem simple. A recent BBC report reveals researchers’ suspicions that trains in the London Underground may be moving too fast, causing the entire system to be under-optimized, due to certain hubs in the system where it’s more likely for bottlenecks to form, due to riders making transfers.

“Reporting their findings in the journal Royal Society Interface, the researchers calculate that London’s system would function best with underground trains travelling about 1.2 times faster than the average speed on the roads. This makes the optimum Tube speed approximately 13mph (21km/h); the current average is 21mph (33km/h).”

Trains going too fast means that the whole Underground system goes more slowly? The magic of queueing theory! Check out the full BBC article here.

Queueing theory can be fascinating for all the extra intricacies it reveals within a system. Even simple problems might be more complex than you suspect, and you can find applications for the theory all through daily life.

If you’re interested in learning “Everything You Need to Know About Queueing Theory,” be sure to check out VividCortex’s newest free ebook.

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