Track Inspection Time Study
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-11/15
SUBJECT: Human Factors, Track
KEYWORDS: visual track inspection
ABSTRACT: Section 403 of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA) requires the Secretary of Transportation to conduct a study of the track inspection process. This report describes a study conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), on behalf of the Secretary, in response to the requirement in Section 403 of the RSIA. To successfully fulfill this congressional mandate, FRA believed it was necessary to obtain a ―snapshot‖ of the current track inspection process. A survey of a random sample of actively working track inspectors, as well as interviews with labor union officials and various levels of railroad management, provided the necessary information. FRA also compiled data related to track defects identified by FRA track inspectors over a 4-year period (2006–2009). This data provides an indication of the most prevalent defects as well as those that industry track inspectors fail to identify. In addition to the collection of survey data, interview data, and FRA track defect data, an ―ideal observer‖ model was constructed for visual track inspection. The ideal observer model provides a theoretical upper limit, based on previously compiled empirical data, on how well the best possible observer can perform.
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