Technical Reports

Work Schedules and Sleep Patterns of Railroad Train and Engine Service Employees in Passenger Operations

  • 01
  • Mar
  • 2011
AUTHOR: Dr. Thomas Raslear
SUBJECT: Human Factors
KEYWORDS: Commuter rail; train and engine service; locomotive engineer; conductor; split assignment; fatigue; work schedule; sleep pattern; sleep disorder; hours of service; passenger rail
ABSTRACT: This report presents the results of a study designed to characterize the work/rest schedules and sleep patterns of U.S. railroad train and engine service (T&E) personnel in passenger service and to examine the relationship between these schedules and fatigue. The methodology was a survey of a random sample of U.S. railroad passenger service T&E personnel who completed a background survey and kept a daily log for 2 weeks. Two-thirds work a “straight thru” schedule, and the remainder is divided between split and extra board assignments. Those with straight thru assignments had the longest workdays, and those with split assignments the shortest. Extrapolation of survey data to 30 days indicated that if new hours of service statutory provisions applicable to T&E personnel in freight service also applied to this group, nearly 20 percent would violate limitations on consecutive days of work. All three work schedule groups obtain similar amounts of daily sleep, but their sleep strategies differ. The split assignment group tends to nap during interim release. The Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool model predicted a small proportion of work time at low effectiveness (high fatigue) levels. Self-ratings of alertness found declines from the start to end of work for straight thru and extra board workers but not those on split assignments.

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