Dynamic pricing under customer choice behavior for revenue management in passenger railway networks

Hohberger, Simon

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URL: https://madoc.bib.uni-mannheim.de/54035
URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-540355
Document Type: Doctoral dissertation
Year of publication: 2020
Place of publication: Mannheim
University: Universität Mannheim
Evaluator: Schön-Peterson, Cornelia
Date of oral examination: 30 January 2020
Publication language: English
Institution: Business School > Service Operations Management (Schön 2014-)
Subject: 330 Economics
650 Management
Keywords (English): Railway Revenue Management , Dynamic Pricing
Abstract: Revenue management (RM) for passenger railway is a small but active research field with an increasing attention during the past years. However, a detailed look into existing research shows that most of the current models in theory rely on traditional RM techniques and that advanced models are rare. This thesis aims to close the gap by proposing a state-of-the-art passenger railway pricing model that covers the most important properties from practice, with a special focus on the German railway network and long-distance rail company Deutsche Bahn Fernverkehr (DB). The new model has multiple advantages over DB’s current RM system. Particularly, it uses a choice-based demand function rather than a traditional independent demand model, is formulated as a network model instead of the current leg-based approach and finally optimizes prices on a continuous level instead of controlling booking classes. Since each itinerary in the network is considered by multiple heterogeneous customer segments (e.g., differentiated by travel purpose, desired departure time) a discrete mixed multinomial logit model (MMNL) is applied to represent demand. Compared to alternative choice models such as the multinomial logit model (MNL) or the nested logit model (NL), the MMNL is significantly less considered in pricing research. Furthermore, since the resulting deterministic multi-product multi-resource dynamic pricing model under the MMNL turns out to be non- linear non-convex, an open question is still how to obtain a globally optimal solution. To narrow this gap, this thesis provides multiple approaches that make it able to derive a solution close to the global optimum. For medium-sized networks, a mixed-integer programming approach is proposed that determines an upper bound close to the global optimum of the original model (gap < 1.5%). For large-scale networks, a heuristic approach is presented that significantly decreases the solution time (by factor up to 56) and derives a good solution for an application in practice. Based on these findings, the model and heuristic are extended to fit further price constraints from railway practice and are tested in an extensive simulation study. The results show that the new pricing approach outperforms both benchmark RM policies (i.e., DB’s existing model and EMSR-b) with a revenue improvement of approx. +13-15% over DB’s existing approach under a realistic demand scenario. Finally, to prepare data for large-scale railway networks, an algorithm is presented that automatically derives a large proportion of necessary data to solve choice-based network RM models. This includes, e.g., the set of all meaningful itineraries (incl. transfers) and resources in a network, the corresponding resource consumption and product attribute values such as travel time or number of transfers. All taken together, the goal of this thesis is to give a broad picture about choice-based dynamic pricing for passenger railway networks.

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