Computerised training plan for UK train drivers
Computing: 15 Feb 2007
The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) is considering the introduction of a computerised driver training simulation system to improve safety levels.
Safety body plans screen-based testing system
The organisation, acting on behalf of the UK’s train operating companies, wants to replace largely manual testing and introduce elements that include decision-making and train handling aptitude for drivers.
The current tests combine screen and paper-based tasks to test driver reactions to signalling and braking.
‘The job of a train driver has evolved and we need up-to-date tests that give a realistic indication of the work involved,’ said RSSB spokeswoman Diana Lucas.
‘We want to streamline the process and create one screen-based test that examines a driver’s capability. It is also an opportunity to offer new interactive testing that delivers better training and driver selection.’
Lucas says the RSSB hopes to replace its existing aptitude tests, based on antiquated technology which is difficult to maintain and upgrade, by the autumn.
The organisation has yet to settle on any specific software, but says it must test for criteria not currently included in its existing suite and be suitable for freight, passenger and on-track machine driving roles. It must also allow for analysis and reporting of test results and operate remotely.
Test results are recorded on a central database, owned by the Rail Assessment Centres Forum, which is likely to be upgraded to import results electronically.
Butler Group analyst Mark Blowers says the software will allow the development of a more interactive and comprehensive test that will make it more applicable to drivers.
‘The benefits of replacing paper-based services are well documented, including elimination of errors,’ he said.
‘Software testing also makes information available straightaway. With the cost coming down, it is more feasible for organisations such as the RSSB.’