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Railroad Superintendents

Sustained Attention Research & Training to Reduce Human Factor Caused Train Accidents

10 Feb 2015 8:25 AM | Shelbi Hoffman (Administrator)

by Ron Robusto

The railroad industry is beginning to see the benefits of the Federal Railroad Administration’s partnership with Transdev (formerly Veolia Transportation) in a recently completed research and development project on cognitive distraction and reducing major rule violations in commuter rail operations. As a result of the study’s conclusive findings, the Sustained Attention Training Program was developed by Transdev with the objective of offering training across the industry to reduce human factor caused train accidents.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers partnered with Transdev for the research portion of the project. The BLE provided thirty-six locomotive engineers who operated the locomotive simulator that is part of the FRA’s Cab Technology Integration Laboratory in Cambridge, MA. The research included testing and analyzing locomotive engineers under various scenarios. A control group of locomotive engineers was provided basic training on everything required to operate the simulator safely and effectively. A second group of locomotive engineers was provided the same basic training PLUS a short module on the science of distraction and how it affects performance.

The results were significant and meaningful for our industry. The second group performed better by a margin ranging from 7.1% to 11.2% in the various subjectively measured areas that were analyzed. The research clearly validated the effectiveness of minimal training on the science of distraction. However, we expect an even higher level of performance of locomotive engineers, as well as other safety critical employees, with a more structured and recurring training approach.

This research reveals real opportunityto improve safety in our industry. I strongly believe Transdev’s Sustained Attention Training program will make a significant and positive difference in reducing human factor caused train accidents. The training consists of four key modules: Your Safety Culture; The Science of Cognitive Distraction; Signs and Symptoms of Loss of Attentiveness; and Solutions and Strategies for Fighting Distraction. The curriculum is designed to fully engage students in all four modules and will be reinforced with additional tools and processes. We currently are piloting the training program within our company over the course of this year, and intend to roll it out and make it available to the entire rail industry in 2016.

For more information about the progress of this study and training initiative, please contact Ron Robusto, COO and VP Safety and Compliance, TransDev, at ron.robusto@transdev.com. 

This blog was authored by by Ron Robusto, Chief Operating Officer and VP Safety and Compliance- Rail Division, TransDev, and 2nd Vice President of AARS

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